Saturday, August 1, 2009

Charlotte trades Emeka Okafor to Hornets for Tyson Chandler

  • Okafor, 27 year old C, Going into 6th NBA year
  • Chandler, 27 year old C, Going into 9th NBA year
  • Okafor owed $10,538,937 in 2009-2010, $11,540,375 in 2010-2011, $12,541,812 in 2012, $13,543,250 in 2013, $14,544,687 in 2014, FA in 2015 (6 year/$72 mil deal in 2008)
  • Chandler owed $11,850,000 in 2009-2010, Player option for $12,750,000 in 2010

Read between the baselines:

For the Bobcats, this trade doesn't make much sense on paper. But if you read between the lines, there's something they can get out of this. In the 2007-2008 season, the Bobcats lineup looked like this:

PG - Raymond Felton/Earl Boykins
SG - Jason Richardson/Matt Carroll
SF/PF - Gerald Wallace
PF/SF - Jared Dudley
C - Emeka Okafor/Nazr Mohammed

Other bench players: Derek Anderson, Othella Harrington, Ryan Hollins, Jermareo Davidson, Walter Hermann, Primoz Brezec, and injured Adam Morrison and Sean May.

Since coach Larry Brown took over, the Bobcats have made some trades to get some better athletic players who can play multiple positions. Gerald Wallace, who could probably be considered the franchise player (especially with Okafor gone), has been joined by Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and now Tyson Chandler for a lineup that is less half court set offense, and more run up and down the court type. Emeka Okafor was a defensive player. His offense was never anything that opposing teams feared.

Tyson Chandler has the same problem: no post moves, no half court offense, but he can get up and down the court for easy transition points as he made a living off of and was well knwon for in New Orleans catching lobs from Chris Paul. Can he replicate that with (if resigned) Raymond Felton? Ray can throw a lob but with a more atheltic big man to throw it to, it could be more common than he had with Okafor. Offensively, ray can do some good things with the offense running through him. Having Chandler, Wallace, and Diaw running alongside him, he has some options on fast breaks and a good pick and roll option with Chandler. The Bobcats are trying to play to their strength and by getting these atheltic energy players, they could be putting some pices to the puzzle together.

HoopsHype's scouting report on Okafor is that he's "a defensive stalwart. Will block a lot of shots and grab a lot of rebounds. Great positioning and timing. Very intelligent. Not very skilled offensively, will never develop into a consistent scorer." Okafor's defense helped Charlotte rank 6th in the NBA last year in DEF EFF, giving up 103.4 points per 100 possessions (right behind San Antonio and better than Denver. New Orleans was close behind ranking 9th and giving up 104.1 per 100. Of course, these teams have great defenders in Gerald Wallace and Raja Bell for Charlotte and Chris Paul and James Posey for New Orleans.

HoopsHype's scouting report on Chandler: "Very atheltic, great mobility for his size, runs the floor well, very active, gets a lot of dunks off alley-oops, doesn't have a polished offensive game, no shot." Although Chandler did get 1.2 blocks per game last year and averages a little better than that for his career, his one on one defense is not nearly as good as Okafor's and those blocks usually come from his weak side help.

Charlotte had the defensive, but was ranked 27th out of 30 teams in OFF EFF scoring 101.6 points per 100 posessions. With the only offensive threat coming from G-Wal and trading away Jason Richardson, Charlotte needed a scorer and they found one in Tyson Chandler that would fit in their system. With the lineup they have now compared to what they had last year, it seems like they want more transition points and some athletic players who can move without the ball. With Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw facilitating, their OFF EFF should only improve.

New Orleans however was ranked 13th, getting 106.2/100. As stated, Okafor doesn't have much of an offensive game, but he did average 13.2 points on 56.1% shooting. But in the Western Conference, where the Hornets have to go up against some top of the line centers (Bynum/Gasol, Duncan, Yao (next year), Oden/Aldrich, Nene). This move seems like they are trying to improve their interior defense while sacrificing some easy lob points. Getting bounced in the first round 4-1 in last year's playoffs indicated it was time for a change.

Tyson has at most, two years left on his contract so if things don't work out in Charlotte, the Bobcats will have some cap space to try something else without having to pay the 60 mil over five years for Emeka. Tyson could also be used as trade bait next year for another team looking for salary relief should he pick up his player option. For the Hornets, it seems like they are in this Okafor stage for the longrun until 2014.

All in all, it seems the Hornets got the better of this trade, but it isn't as one sided as the media is making it out to be. The Bobcats cleared some money off the books with Chandler's contract and got some offense that could work in Charlotte's offense. New Orleans may have gotten the player that could put them over the hump in terms of playoff production.

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Some Okafor offense:

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