New Orleans Reacts

February, 17, 2009
2/17/09
2:37
PM ET

Niall Doherty of Hornets247 heard about the trade of Tyson Chandler for Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith, and wrote:

What little faith I did have that the Hornets could compete for a championship this season? It's dead and gone. 

No one at ESPN.com pictured the Hornets finishing lower than fourth in the West when the season began, and plenty of people thought they'd win the West. So this is a slide, to be certain. They have coped with injuries, and a re-jiggered roster that seems to lack a little bit of punch. 

Now, add the financial crisis to lists of things keeping the Hornets from immediate contention. Doherty continues:

This really sucks, but I'm not sure Jeff Bower had much choice. With the economy the way it is, we were suddenly looking at a significant luxury tax penalty next season unless we could shed salary in a hurry. Tyson Chandler was our best trade chip due to his sizeable contract and the high demand for such a big man.

So the Hornets have achieved their goal of shedding salary. Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox come off the books this summer.

Of course, the real downside of this is that we definitely took a step back as a team. The Hornets' interior D was undeniably weak with Tyson out injured, and neither Smith nor Wilcox will be able to defend the paint quite like TC could. Offensively, that pair might combine to give us a few more points than Tyson, but my guess is that they won't be running the pick and roll with Chris Paul anywhere near as well as Tyson could.

UPDATE: TrueHoop reader J.C. e-mails:

1) Niall Doherty is being way too nice to Jeff Bower. Didn't have much choice? I am pretty sure that he had the choice to not pay way too much for James Posey, a player who didn't fill our most obvious needs when he was signed, and who is looking increasingly (and painfully) like an embodiment of the idea that players at his position rapidly decline at his age. That, and other moves (like Peja's contract) make Bower fairly responsible in my book.

2) Even considering the economy, the Hornets are still a basketball team, right? Can a basketball team really survive financially by making moves that by most accounts look horrible from a basketball perspective? Per this point -- do they really think this is the way to get fans to buy tickets? I, for one, don't anticipating buying any Hornets tickets for a while, and I am seriously thinking about taking the unused tickets from my current partial season ticket package, putting them in an envelope, and sending them back to Jeff Bower.

3) Will anyone really be that surprised if in a few years we look back on this salary dump as the first in a series of moves that leads to Shinn moving the team to a different city?

I, for one, always get nervous about blaming the general manager, when you never know how things play out with the owner. Sure Jeff Bower has had a couple of misses, but so has R.C. Buford, Joe Dumars, Red Auerbach, and everybody else. Every GM in the NBA would rather have Chandler than empty seats on the bench. But if your owner won't pay Chandler, you do what you can. It could be that Sam Presti's brilliance in this deal was not in anything to do with talent evaluation, but in talking his owners into spending money.

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