Tyson Chandler is going back to New Orleans.
The Thunder on Wednesday night rescinded its trade with the Hornets because of concerns from the medical staff that were raised during Chandler’s physical. NBA teams aren’t allowed to discuss a player’s medical condition, but Yahoo Sports, citing league executives, reports the medical condition is turf toe.
Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith will now return to the Thunder, and OKC will regain the draft rights to DeVon Hardin, the 50th overall pick in the 2008 draft.
“Yesterday we were excited to add Tyson, but at the same time we have to make tough decisions,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti. “There were some things in the medical process and outside consultants that gave us some concern.
“We have to listen to the people (conducting) our medicals. We feel the right decision for us was to move in another direction. We’re disappointed it did not work out. At the same time we look forward to having both Chris and Joe back in Thunder uniforms.”
Chandler had surgery on his left big toe on April 20, 2007, two days after the Hornets played their final game as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. He missed the final eight games of that 2006-07 season because of the toe injury. Chandler has missed 20 games this season, including the past 14 with a sprained ankle, and was slowed by a toe injury earlier this season.
The most recent two messages on Chandler’s Twitter.com page, posted Tuesday afternoon, read, “OKC….I’m back!!! I’m looking forward 2 helping get this franchise back (where) we belong!!! See you at the top!!” and “I want 2 thank all my fans in the N.O…We had a great run. I love & will miss you all!!!”
Chandler was in Oklahoma City for Tuesday’s game against the Hornets but wasn’t in the building because the trade occurred earlier in the day. It is believed Chandler flew back to New Orleans to pack up some of his belongings and was set to board a flight back to OKC on Thursday. Thunder officials were preparing to make the customary rounds with Chandler on Thursday morning, getting pictures of him in his new jersey and recording videoboard promos with the 7-foot-1 center before introducing him to the media on Thursday afternoon.
The rescinded trade, however, now leaves the Thunder disappointed and devoid of the game-changing defensive center it thought it scored from the cost-cutting Hornets. It’s unclear if Presti will make a move before Thursday’s 2 p.m. trade deadline, but his history as the team’s GM would indicate he will not make a reactive move because this one fell through.
The most recent example of this came when Presti signed Utah restricted free agent guard C.J. Miles to a four-year, $15 million offer sheet last July only to see the Jazz unexpectedly match. Presti was content on going into this season without pulling the trigger on a deal for another up-and-coming shooting guard.
But the Thunder has reclaimed three assets in Smith and Wilcox’s expiring contracts and Hardin’s draft rights that could make OKC players one final time before the deadline. The Thunder still is trying to unload the contracts of backup point guard Earl Watson (due $6.6 million next season) and reserve guard Damien Wilkins (due $3.3 million next year). A deal combining some form of Watson and Smith or Wilcox and Wilkins could unfold in these final hours.
If the Thunder is to make a move, don’t be surprised if OKC is a party in a three-team trade. Presti has been involved with two three-team trades since being named GM two years ago, including one at last year’s deadline that unloaded the unwanted contracts of Wally Szczberiak and Delonte West on Cleveland and saved the franchise $7 million in salary cap space for this year.