Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The World Turned Upside Down

Hoops world anyway, where because of the economic downturn and shrinking fortunes of NBA owners, players with big expiring contracts are more valuable than the best players on the market (h/t C-biggie):

"If you asked owners in the league who they'd rather have right now, LaFrentz or Stoudemire, I think more than half of them would prefer LaFrentz," one executive said. "That's how screwed up this thing has been. I guarantee you [Blazers GM] Kevin Pritchard has gotten better offers for LaFrentz than the Suns have gotten for Stoudemire."

Sure, a hefty contract can have value to particular teams in particular circumstances, but it's crazy that so many teams are looking to save money at this point. Without such circumstances, moves like this wouldn't make a lick of sense:

The New Orleans Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder have completed a deal that sends center Tyson Chandler to the Thunder, according to NBA front-office sources.


ESPN.com reported early Monday that the Hornets -- who have been looking to move Chandler mostly for financial reasons -- were in talks with the Thunder on a trade that would net the expiring contracts of Smith and Wilcox. Thunder general manager Sam Presti is a long-time admirer of Chandler dating to his time with the San Antonio Spurs.


With a payroll at nearly $67 million this season and scheduled to reach almost $77 million next season, New Orleans felt it had to part with Chandler before Thursday's 3 p.m. trading deadline regardless, even though dealing away the 26-year-old almost certainly takes the Hornets out of serious playoff contention in the West.

That would be the Hornets who dispatched the Mavs in five games in the first round of the playoffs last year, and took San Antonio to seven games before being eliminated in the second round. In a highly competitive Western conference these guys weren't looking to make a move that would get them to the Finals; they were looking to save a buck. Unbelievable. And there's still two days left before the trade deadline.

UPDATE: At the same time, an owner willing to part with some cash could make out quite well at this point, or so says Chad Ford anyway. Mike Fisher says Mavs execs are in "go-for-it mode." We'll see if he's right.

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