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News » Deliberate approach yields steal for Hornets


Deliberate approach yields steal for Hornets


Deliberate approach yields steal for Hornets
The Hornets' poster boy for stealth calmly strode to a spot on the floor in the Alario Center lobby, no podium or even a chair awaiting him.

He explained what appears on the surface to be a Hornets -colored heist, the trade that sent center Tyson Chandler to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for center Emeka Okafor. He wanted to as quickly as possible get back to the business of burrowing under the NBA radar in order to improve the Hornets .

"It's something that we think will help us continue to grow, continue to improve," General Manager Jeff Bower said Tuesday. "And we're looking forward to continuing to work on our team, continuing to get better for next season.

"We've spent a great deal of time in discussions with (Charlotte). There's a level of comfort with everybody involved."

Now, there's a level of comfort for Hornets fans with their team, too -- a level of comfort and satisfaction that wasn't there a couple of days ago.

The Hornets today are a better team. And public impatience -- yours truly leading that pack -- has succumbed to the fact Bower, in his own time and with an assist from the Bobcats, got something good for his wait, received an award for his patience.

Not that there's anything wrong with slow, lazy summer days. They're acceptable in most professions, desired in others.

But the NBA isn't one of them.

So when the Hornets didn't make a sound during the first days of free agency, when other Western Conference contenders were making headlines and expanding the distance between themselves and New Orleans to the point it appeared the Hornets would slip out of playoff contention before the regular season tipped off, it was unsettling.

The Lakers landed Ron Artest; the Hornets talked about being willing to pay the luxury tax in order to remain competitive.

The Spurs traded for Richard Jefferson; the Hornets missed out on free-agent forward Brandon Bass and guard Jannero Pargo, who signed with Orlando and Chicago.

The Mavericks picked up Shawn Marion; the Hornets drafted Darren Collison and swung a draft-night deal for second-round pick Marcus Thornton, rookie backups.

The Nuggets re-signed Chris Andersen; the Hornets watched the Nuggets re-sign the Birdman.

The Jazz reclaimed Paul Millsap; the Hornets , reportedly, considered trading Chandler for broken-down Ben Wallace, a former four-time Defensive Player of the Year and extraordinary rebounder who is a shell of his former self, unable even to consider doing the dirty work he used to do.

But, finally, when the Hornets did move, they did so decisively, proving a deliberate pace is just as effective as a lightning strike if the same effect is achieved. And that effect -- an improved New Orleans team -- very much appears to have been achieved.

There's no way to not approvingly look at the swap, which, according to the career numbers, will give the Hornets a more productive offensive player (14 points per game in Okafor's career, to Chandler's 8.2) and a better rebounder (10.7 to nine) and shot-blocker (1.8 to 1.4), at the same age (26) and a comparable salary ($10.5 million this season for Okafor, $11.8 million for Chandler).

"Some of the things that Emeka will bring is a physical presence in the low post, someone who can become a threat for us down low and in the paint," Bower said. "We think he's a very good individual defender on the ball on the blocks, as well as a strong defensive rebounder and offensive rebounder. (Those characteristics and) the consistency that he's shown -- over the past season for instance -- are all elements that we think he'll add to our team."

Which isn't to say Chandler won't be missed.

We learned to appreciate his honesty, earnestness, willingness, loyalty and growth. The Hornets were a 49-win team last season with him playing just 45 regular-season games. Undoubtedly, they'd have won several more if Chandler had been healthy, and maybe New Orleans would've been in better position to win its first-round playoff series or be more competitive in it.

But business is business. The Hornets had to improve, or the people who support their business were going to remain unhappy.

New Orleans did.

Unable to rid the roster of Chandler in a salary dump -- no other description fits the rescinded Chandler-for-Oklahoma City reserves trade during last season, or talk of a Chandler-for-Wallace swap -- they moved him in a deal that should help them move up the Western Conference standings.

"I think it shows that we are interested in improving and that we are interested in competing in the Western Conference, and we are willing to pay the price to do that," Bower said. "I think this trade did accomplish a number of objectives, and that's something that's a byproduct of it.

"We see the teams around us and we hear the comments in the community, and we understand the passion that exists in this community -- now, especially -- for the Hornets . We're right with them. We all feel the same thing. We are committed to improving.

"The commitment that (majority owner) Mr. (George) Shinn and his family have made to allow this trade to go forward shows that he's interested in building a winner, and that he's interested in competing, and that that's what he wants. That's the message that's delivered from the highest part of the organization, and it's our job to try and make that happen."

From here, job well done, a reward for weeks of stealth and calm.

Now, let's see if that quiet and sneakiness can land the Hornets a backup power forward, too.

. . . . . . .

John DeShazier can be reached at jdeshazier@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3410.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 30, 2009

 

 
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