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News » Future is sky high

Future is sky high

Future is sky high
Wonders kept falling from the sky.

A 7-foot enforcer named Tyson Chandler dropped in the Thunder's lap for the song of two expiring contracts.

A bison mascot named Rumble dropped from the ceiling on a platform.

A fallaway 3-pointer named Play of the Night dropped in by the amazing Kevin Durant with 13.8 seconds left to tie the game.

The only thing that didn't drop from the heavens for the Thunder this wild Tuesday night was a how'd-they-do-that victory.

Chris Paul, who was Oklahoma City's greatest hoops hero until Durant hit town, sank a driving jumper with 2.7 seconds left that gave the Hornets a 100-98 victory at the Ford Center.

Oh, well. A cornerstone center, a mascot and a game for the ages. Not a bad day's work for Oklahoma City's NBA franchise, and as much as everyone enjoyed meeting the Teen Wolf mascot and gasping at Durant's career high 47 points, nothing could trump the trade for Chandler.

Costing only Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith, two solid guys and decent players, Chandler fills the biggest void on this blossoming team: interior defense.

Just imagine Chandler on the court for those final seconds. Lane penetrations by the likes of Paul won't come so easy against the Thunder, who even in the Scott Brooks Renaissance has allowed far too many easy baskets.

"Those guys are scary," Paul said. "This (trade) definitely will put them into the future playoff hunt. You put Tyson in with that core..."

Chandler's numbers are down from his previous two Hornet seasons, including a year in OKC.

But the Hornets glumly claimed he's the same player.

"I think he can be even better," said New Orleans coach Byron Scott. "I expect him to be an All-Star center some day."

Injuries have nagged Chandler all season. Toe. Neck. Ankle. But make no mistake. Chandler is exactly what the Thunder needed.

An athletic big man to plug the middle and give the Thunder a defensive presence to counter the offensive juggernaut that burns for any team with Durant on the roster.

"Defensive presence," OKC's Jeff Green said simply about Chandler's addition. "He's a presence. A big presence. We're going to be a great team with him."

Well, being a good team should be the first goal. But the Thunder ascension has gone into overdrive. This team can get good quickly.

The Thunder has Chandler through 2010-11, unless he opts out a year early on a contract that would pay him $12.75 million. Not bloody likely.

"It's important to have a guy that can protect the basket," said Brooks, who is about to become a much better coach, just as soon as Chandler recovers from his ankle sprain and makes his Thunder debut.

Brooks brought up the names of Olajuwon and Ewing, his old teammates, and no, Chandler isn't on their level, even talking just defense. But he's big-time good.

And general manager Sam Presti obtained Chandler without so much as giving up one of his five first-round picks in the next two drafts, and the addition of Chandler makes the Blake Griffin derby less important.

Sure, the Thunder would love to have the Oklahoma Ox, but Chandler's arrival ensures that the makeup of this team changes anyway, no matter what falls from the sky in the lottery.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 20, 2009


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