Until the clock struck 2 on Thursday afternoon, perhaps you were like me, hoping the Thunder would rescind what they had rescinded one day earlier. There must have been somehow, some way for the Tyson Chandler deal to have gone through with the Thunder offering Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox and the rights to DeVon Hardin in exchange for the Hornets’ 7-foot-1, 245-pound, 26-year-old, budding All-Star center. Maybe Chandler could have taken another physical. While he turned his head and coughed, the Thunder could turn the other cheek and announce, "OK, we have ourselves a deal.” Chandler has turf toe. He’s got it bad. Was there no possible solution to what could have been the Thunder’s most significant trade to date? What about putting Chandler in street clothes the remainder of this season? Put him on the shelf. If he needed surgery, do it. If he needed rest, give it. Proclaim this season a lost cause. Sitting Chandler wouldn’t hurt your playoff chances because you have no chance. With 28 games left, the Thunder is 10 measly games away from being mathematically eliminated. Look to next year and beyond. Fact is, the Thunder did consider this scenario. "We considered all possibilities, but we had to do what we thought was best for this organization,” general manager Sam Presti said before ducking back into an office with the NBA’s 2 p.m. trade deadline 95 minutes away Thursday. Big bucks were at stake with Chandler, who is making $10,950,000 this season, $11,850,000 next season and $12,750,000 with a player option in 2010-11. The Thunder thought the risk-reward was too great, which tells us this is one bad left big toe. Chandler had toe surgery on April 20, 2007. It was performed by local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carlan Yates two days after the Hornets’ regular-season finale. "There was a lot more in there that they had to clean up than they thought,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said that day. Apparently, something is still in there, which makes you wonder how long Chandler will be able to play for the Hornets. If Chandler prospers with the Hornets, the Thunder will always wonder what could have been. On Thursday morning, the Pacers reportedly made a run at Chandler, but nothing came of it. There is no way to overstate what Chandler potentially could have meant to the Thunder. Had he stayed healthy, he might have helped make the Thunder a contender for the playoffs as early as next season. The Thunder didn’t get too attached to Chandler because the trade never went through. Pending an approved medical exam, no trade ever goes through. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he will remain focused on the players he has, not the player he nearly had. While everyone was asking about Chandler, Chandler, Chandler, a man requiring crutches focused on his two returning teammates. "It’ll be great to have two solid guys back with us,” Thunder wingman Desmond Mason said of Smith and Wilcox. Mason spoke glowingly of Chandler when prodded — "He’s really growing into one of the best centers in the league” — but Mason quickly refocused his attention on Smith and Wilcox. "They’re two true professionals,” Mason said. "We’ve been playing good ball around here lately, and they’ve been a part of that. Now it’s time to (get) back to what we’ve been working on.” Roughly 10 minutes after Mason spoke, one of his teammates suddenly was gone again. Wilcox was traded to the Knicks in exchange for Malik Rose. Shortly after that, Smith was rumored to be on the wish list of the Celtics and Cavaliers should the Thunder buy out his contract. Then Mason suddenly was gone on a flight to Phoenix. Rest easy, he was on the Thunder’s team plane. Just to make sure everyone is accounted for, perhaps Brooks should have roll call. John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
Jenni Carlson asses the trade A closer look at turf toe Turf toe is a condition that involves the hyperextension, spraining or tearing of ligaments in the big toe. The condition is common in athletes, particularly those who have played sports on hard, artificial surfaces. NBA players, such as Hornets center Tyson Chandler, are not immune to turf toe. The painful condition can be bad enough to sideline athletes for weeks — if not end their career. Multi-sport star Deion Sanders suffered a career-ending case of turf toe. Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert retired because of turf toe, suffered when he was tackling locomotive running back Earl Campbell. Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has battled turf toe on the right foot and left foot at the same time. According to ESPN.com, Chandler was bothered by turf toe in last season’s playoffs. Chandler told the Web site on Wednesday that Dr. Carlan Yates, the Thunder’s team physician, informed the 7-foot-1 center: "I have no doubt you can play on it. I’m just saying it could take a turn for the worse if you come down on somebody’s foot or hyperextended it or something.” That was a risk the Thunder apparently didn’t want to take.