Okafor for Chandler Almost Official?

Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Proving the adage that the actual trades that go down in the NBA are not leaked to the media ahead of time, Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Bobcats and Hornets are in advanced discussions regarding an Emeka Okafor-for-Tyson Chandler trade.  The Observer, via the AP, is reporting that it’s essentially a done deal and will be official tomorrow.  As of the time of this writing, no other players are reportedly involved.  The trade does work straight-up.

This one’s kind of a stunner, folks.  Though we’ve speculated a bit on Okafor’s status here at the Baseline, I don’t think any of us realistically thought he could be traded this offseason — mainly because of his contract, which looks like this:

2009-10:  $10.5 million

2010-11:  $11.5 million

2011-12:  $12.5 million

2012-13:  $13.5 million

2013-14:  $14.5 million

In the current economic climate, there aren’t many teams that want to take on that kind of committment, especially for a player with a skill set as limited as Okafor’s.

And there’s the rub, one of the things that’s going to be debated extensively amongst Bobcats fans.  What kind of a player is/was Okafor?  His supporters will point to the double-doubles.  He has averaged one in each of his five NBA seasons thus far, a true rarity.  He’s also a good citizen.

But other (and in my opinion, more astute and critical) observers will recognize that he’s an extremely limited player.  He doesn’t bring much to the table on the offensive end, getting most of his buckets off dishes from Felton or putbacks.  He has never developed any semblance of a low-post game, and is completely useless outside of 6-8 feet.  Furthermore, he’s never seemed particularly dedicated to addressing any of these shortcomings, thus prompting the famous Larry Brown quip that Okafor gets and “A in stretching, Pilates, and Yoga” but needs to focus on getting an “A in basketball.”

And now for the other, and bigger, question that’s going to be debated: Even if you accept that Okafor is limited, that you’re not exactly going places with him, he’s still one of your main assets.  Can’t you get more than Tyson Chandler back for him?

Chandler is possibly even more limited than Okafor.  He’s taller and more agile, probably a better one-on-one post-defender.  Skillwise, that’s where the differences stop.  Chandler is equally as inept as Okafor on the offensive end, scoring mostly on lobs from Chris Paul and putbacks.  Like Okafor, Chandler has no low-post game of his own and no ability to hit a mid-range jumper.

Furthermore, Chandler is coming off of a miserable season in which he struggled mightily with ankle and toe injuries.  In fact, a mid-season trade to the Thunder was nixed when Chandler couldn’t pass muster with the Thunder’s doctor.  There has been speculation that ankle/foot/toe problems might continue to haunt Chandler in the future.

So sadly, we have to accept the reality that this deal is mostly about money.  The most important difference between Okafor and Chandler is that Chandler is only on the hook for one, maybe two more years: $11.8 million this year, followed by a player option for $12.7 million the next.

For the Bobcats, who are nowhere near contending for a top spot in the East and for sale to boot, the financial relief this deal provides will ultimately be a good thing.  It improves the propects for new ownership (which we need desperately) and will give the team some roster flexibility in the coming years.


21 thoughts on “Okafor for Chandler Almost Official?

  1. As their competition in the Eastern Conference gets stronger the Bobcats…dump salary.

    At least the Florida Marlins win championships before gutting the roster. This sucks. Bob Johnson's final kick to the groin before he sells the team (oops, I shouldn't have written that – he might be dealing Gerald Wallace for Bruce Bowen next).

    Okafor is an ASSET. The best draft pick the team has ever made. Period. Charlotte is not a free agent destination so the cap room won't be jack in the summer of 2011 anyway. You have to get something of value in return.


    Can we change our domain name to "OKCThunderBaseline.com?"

    Is it too late?

  2. reggie

    the plus is that Chandler is a better defensive fit for us in our division (Howard, O'Neal) and if healthy then theres nothing to worry about.

    but worry for his health we do. if we could find out more about this trade id love it. but if this trade goes down the drain, im organizing a fleet of people to walk down to the cable box and demand to see his airness and Rod in person….

    it appears that the only true untouchable is Boris/DJ.

    and if you change the domain, i want to be the number one fan.

  3. You'll always be the number one fan in our hearts reggie.


    The Bobcats can't actually believe that they'll get 82 games out of Tyson this season. What a joke. It's like trading in a 2005 Toyota Camry that you've owned and serviced since you bought it new for a refurbed 2004 Toyota Camry that was recovered from a drained lake.

    All of this cap space B.S. is just that. The cap money is there for you to sign quality players with. You take those players, win games, go to the playoffs, generate fan interest and make more money, sign more players. Rinse and Repeat. Great organizations like Dallas, LAL, SAN, UTAH, etc have much worse players with much worse contracts and don't pull moves like this.

    I genuinely hope that Tyson can stay healthy and provide a nice defensive presence on the court but let's be completely honest. An NBA team RESCINDED a trade for him just 5 months ago because of his DEGENERATIVE PHYSICAL CONDITION. This doesn't happen very often. In fact, it hardly ever happens.

    With the team returning in tact from last season, I put the Bobcats chances of making the playoffs at around 45%. With 35-50 games of Tyson Chandler? 35%.

    Thanks Bob. You can't sell this team fast enough.

  4. xian

    I'm not opposed to trading Okafor, primarily because it's not like the team, as it stands, got anywhere, and the dude is not worth 14M, specially with the cap declining. that beign said, Ido agree that we could have at elast traded him for a volume scoring wing player like Nellie's fave Moped rider and just used a combo of Gana and Nazr as our rebounding/defensive centers.

  5. Jared

    Do LAL, SAN, Utah and the like really have much worse players with much worse contracts? They all have much better players and continually go deep into the playoffs as well. Let's not forget the fan support they also have.

    No need for hyperbolic rants.

    It's a risk for sure. I'm sad to see Okafor go, but I'm ready to see Bob Johnson go. You're gonna have to break a few eggs.

    I hope he doesn't further take away the team's core before he does it.

  6. Charlie

    C'mon the Bobcats need to sell tickets and Chandler puts people in the seat, well at least much more than Okafor. Now re-sign Felton but do not overpay like we have in past. DJ will be nice but even if we have to we could run big with B Diaw at point and while DJ can run off guard basically. Now sign Hakim Warrick for 2-3 million because he has tons of potential still and can backup Diaw. This is first time i read this blog and its good stuff. I stay up in Alaska so i like to get as much BOBCAT talk as i can

  7. Jared-

    We're both on the same page regarding Bob Johnson. We want him gone.

    And yes, a rant is necessary. This move is a terrible signal to the fans. I'll have a more thorough, less emotional post on this tomorrow when it finally sinks in.

    Don't bet on this being that last cost cutting move. Wallace and Felton might both be wearing different jerseys before the season starts.

  8. reggie

    trading Wallace is deff the nail in the coffin for this franchise. unless of corse it brings in a sure all star or up-and-coming youngster.

    but maybe LB is banking on the Ajinca project. time will tell

    the only time Chandler is better than Okafor is when hes in the air, guarding Tim Duncan, and when hes healthy. otherwise we got the same player.

  9. reggie

    cant wait for the season to start and see how this goes down….

    but call me a Thunder fan for the 2010-2011 if this goes down the drain. ill be back for the 2011-2012 season

    ILBIT. well, you have to now.

  10. Jared

    A deal made for financial relief is not necessarily a cause for us to be sad. I'm really unsure of how I feel about the deal, but the future cap room is an undoubted benefit. It's nice to be taking back a better contract for once.

    If Chandler's toe is no good, then the Bobcats are crazy for making this move. Hopefully, they have good reason to believe that Chandler is healthy.

  11. Jared

    C'mon guys you can't jump ship! I'll take a season with no wins if it ends with Bob Johnson selling the team.

    Let's just hope he doesn't get rid of all the talent before he does.

  12. spectre

    I'm kind of confused on how Chandler would put more fans in the seats?

    BB wise it's not that bad; I knew Mek was going to be shopped…you could tell from LB's comments he wasn't a fan. Most of Mek's negatives Chandler's pretty good at (playing above vs. below the rim, passion for the game, finishing). Until Mek learns to be able to finish in the air I imagine he's going to give Paul fits.

    Value wise I think we got screwed. Chandler was just traded for Wilcox and Joe Smith…if we don't at least get their '10 1st this is a major fail, and even then I'd think it was lopsided in their favor.

    It all depends on Chandler's health. If he can stay healthy then I think we're ok on the court.

  13. spectre

    and I forgot pick and roll. LB criticized Mek publically, saying "I wish we had a center that can run the P&R".

    Be interesting to see how Mek works in NOLA.

  14. Justin

    I think this could potentially be a good deal for the Cats…but I'm usually wrong about these things, so I'm not sure. I thought Adam Morrison and Sean May would be the faces of this franchise, and that Felton would be the one that would struggle…but you see how that turned out. I agree that Okafor, although consistent on the defensive end, is VERY limited on the offensive end. I think Chandler has alittle more ability on the offensive end, but can't help but think this is strictly a cost saving move. But could their be more moves on the horizon?

  15. Bobcat orange?

    Does anybody else get this sinking feeling that Larry Brown is going to keep blowing up the roster regardless of what players we have? Also a sinking feeling that he's going to LEAVE the team in two seasons in a state of total chaos where none of the fans even know what players are on the team?

    The JRich trade was great last season, but the rest of the moves have not noticeably improved the team. It feels like we're making moves just for the sake of making moves. How about a trade that makes us BETTER?

    I never liked Okafor, overrated, overpaid, under motivated(Julius Peppers, anyone?) but come on Tyson Chandler? The Hornets have been desperate to move this guy, and a team that only had 20 wins last year wouldn't take him. You didn't see good teams going after him and there's a reason for that.

    Further, recent roster moves have left us with a glut a center. Sinse we have to PAY Nazr and Diop, why not play them? Trading Okafor for say, a scorer, or a good PF would have made a ton of sense. As is we still have too many guys with redundant skill sets, none of which can help the team by any great reach.

    All I have to say is if we trade Gerald Wallace I'm done with this team. Lived here all my life, and have tried to be a fan, but they sure haven't made it easy.

  16. E

    Bobcat orange?:

    I think all of your concerns are valid. Between Bob Johnson's need to cut payroll to facilitate selling the team and Larry Brown's "grass is always greener" approach to roster management, we are in dangerous times as fans.

    I really hope that Chandler's ankle/foot/toe are healthy. If so, I believe he's only a nominal downgrade from Okafor, and probably is a better fit with LB, both physically and psychologically.

    So if given two comparable players with comparable salaries, neither of whom are superstars, you always want the guy with the shorter commitment.

    But if he's still hurting, or if this is just the beginning of salary dumpage, we're in for some rough times.

  17. WHIROB

    im not super excited about the trade but i dont think its bad. brown wants to really run that pick n roll. tyson will be much better in the pick n roll. its all he did with n.o. i would watch the post game news conferneces and brown would almost be in agony because okafor just could not play the pic n roll like he wanted it done. BROWN would always say that he would not come out far enough on the screen and it would mess up what the point was trying to do.

    i think offensive skills and rebounding are a wash. tyson is the more athletic player and may be a better overall defender. brown loves athletes. think we get almost the same player for a cheaper long term price. im ok with that.

  18. Charlie

    Chandler gives us a more athletic look. Diaw will make passes to Chandler that could give him 6-8 points a game along with the 6-8 he should get just from hustle and such. They are both of equal skill just in different categories. We need a athletic starting center to pair with our slow backup in Diop. Mohammed has been said to trimmed down and been in best shape in while so if he is what he used to be, we could have a good backup Center. Like i said before SIGN HAKIM WARRICK.

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