With OKC acquiring Tyson Chandler but giving up two rotation big men, where does the Thunder bench go from here? What if somebody gets hurt, then what? One reader looks at this issue.
Let me preface this by getting a couple things out on the table. First, I will be writing this from the perspective that the Thunder will compete in every game the rest of the season and should actually be worried about this year’s performance regardless of their record so far. I don’t subscribe to the shutting it down for a better chance at the man-child that is Blake Griffin (40 and 23 in a conference game? Really?) theory.
Second, I loved the Tyson Chandler trade. It was a very coy and patient move by Sam Presti to not give up any of the five first round draft picks the Thunder has even though you know the Hornets surely started negotiations by asking for one or more of those picks.
It gives the Thunder a rim protector in a 26-year-old center that, by all accounts, will fit right in with the culture that has been created by this team. I, however, have one worry after watching Tuesday night’s heartbreaker against New Orleans. Scott Brooks obviously has no confidence in Robert Swift or Mouhamed Sene as NBA centers and that could be a major issue if Chandler, Nick Collison, or Nenad Krstic gets dinged up during the rest of the season.
Against a Hornets team that rotated Sean Marks and Hilton Armstrong (not exactly a intimidating combination) at center Brooks did not play Swift or Sene a single minute in the 100-98 loss. If he was going to run Sene or Swift out against any other centers in the league this would be it. Instead Krstic played 31 minutes off the bench while Collison logged 27 as the starter. By no means am I saying that I blame Brooks for not playing Swift or Sene. My main concern is that he has no confidence in either one of them and with Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox now gone depth could be a major issue if any of the frontline players get hurt.
Assuming Chandler and crew stay healthy this whole issue won’t be a problem. And maybe Swift and/or Sene are banged up and couldn’t play any minutes even though they were listed as DNP-CD. Either way, I will be the 96th person to say what a good trade this was for the Thunder. I just hope, for this year’s sake, that the front line stays healthy and everyone gets a chance to see what this talented, young group can do. – Jordan Bass (you can reach Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jordan is dead on here, but this is something I’m sure Presti has thought about and hopefully has covered. Some people have said that if Presti knew he’d be able to make this deal, he probably wouldn’t have signed Krstic. I disagree. If he didn’t have Krstic, then he’d have just Nick Collison left as his rotation big men (other than Chandler). Krstic provides big time security in case there’s an injury and more importantly, depth. The Thunder front court was a weakness early on but is shaping up pretty nicely with Chandler, Green, Collison and Krstic. If D.J. White can ever get healthy, that’s a pretty strong unit.
Plus, at tysonchandler.com, they’ve compiled a ton of quotes and trade reaction. Check it out.