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News » Thunder acquires Chandler

Thunder acquires Chandler

Thunder acquires Chandler
The Thunder has taken a major step in its continued efforts to establish a defensive identity.

Oklahoma City acquired 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler in a trade with New Orleans on Tuesday, surrounding Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook with an anchor in the middle who's carved out a career through rebounding and shot-blocking.

The Thunder sent Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox and the draft rights to DeVon Hardin, the 50th overall pick in the 2008 draft, to the Hornets.

"This is going to be a real good move for us," said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. "This organization has made the right moves so far to make us a better team. I'm excited about everything they have done."

Chandler, 26, played one season in Oklahoma City as a member of the Hornets during the team's two-year relocation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He's been plagued by injuries this season, however, after enjoying his best years the past two seasons. Chandler has missed 19 games, including the last 13 because of a sprained ankle, and is averaging 8.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 32 games.

But Hornets players and coaches believe Chandler's presence will be felt immediately in Oklahoma City.

In his first season with the Hornets, Chandler helped New Orleans go from a rebounding differential of minus-0.2 in 2005-06 to plus-2.3 in 2006-07 and increased the Hornets' blocked shots from 3.7 per game to 4.2 per game.

"He's a coach's dream," said Hornets coach Byron Scott. "He'll do whatever you ask him to do and he'll do it to the best of his ability. He has no excuses about it. He's just going to try to go out there and try to play the game the right way and do everything possible to win.

"They're getting a great guy. They're getting a guy that's a double-double guy, that's a presence in that paint. I read that Brooks wanted to (focus) more on defense. He's got a perfect guy to preach it."

Chandler has two years remaining on his contract after this season worth $24.6 million, but can opt out of the final year of his deal before the start of the 2010-11 season.

Despite adding Chandler's contract, which pays him $11.8 million next season, the Thunder is still in a good position financially moving forward. Oklahoma City could have $10 million in cap space next summer, and Chandler's contract comes off the books one year before an extension would kick in for Durant and Green.

"They're starting to look like Portland looks," said Hornets forward David West of the Thunder's stable of young and athletic talent. "It's not going to be too many teams that can match up with them athletically."

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


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