Bobcats trade Emeka Okafor to Hornets for Tyson Chandler

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has acquired center Tyson Chandler from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for forward/center Emeka Okafor.

In 197 games over three seasons with New Orleans, the 7-1 Chandler averaged 10.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 34.3 minutes, while shooting .611 from the field (829-1356).  Chandler, who missed 29 of the team’s final 44 games last season due to left ankle injuries, averaged 8.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 32.1 minutes over 45 games played in 2008-09.

The second overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Chandler has played in 537 games for Chicago and New Orleans over his eight NBA seasons.  Chandler holds career averages of 8.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 28.0 minutes, while shooting .554 from the field (1671-3014).

“We looked at this trade as an opportunity to improve our team,” Higgins said.  “Tyson brings that unique level of athleticism in a 7-footer that puts us in a position to compete night in and night out with the other quality centers in the league.”

“Emeka is one of the premier centers in the NBA with All-Star caliber scoring and rebounding averages throughout his career,” said Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower. “His potential to improve is endless once you put him on the court running with Chris Paul. We appreciate what  Tyson has done for our club in the past and wish him the best, but our intention this summer was to improve our team and this trade is definitely a positive move in that direction.”

Chandler led the NBA in offensive rebounds in both 2006-07 and 2007-08, ranking second in the league in rebounds per game in 2006-07 and third in rebounds per game in 2007-08.  He also ranked second in the NBA in field goal percentage in 2007-08 (.623) and would have led the league at .624 in 2006-07 but fell four field goals short of the statistical minimum to qualify.

Chandler leaves the Hornets as the franchise’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (.611) and rebounds per game (11.3) and ranked fifth in total rebounds despite playing just 197 career games with the team (2,225).  He owns the top two single-season marks in both field goal percentage and rebounds.

The Bobcats initially selected Okafor with the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, making him the first draft pick in franchise history.  The 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, he averaged 14.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 34.0 minutes in 330 career games with the Bobcats and is the franchise’s career leader in rebounds, blocked shots and field goal percentage.  Okafor averaged 13.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 2008-09, playing in all 82 games for the second consecutive season.

“We’d like to thank Emeka for all that he has done for this franchise and for serving as the organization’s ambassador and first-ever draft pick,” Higgins added.  “His hard work and dedication to the Charlotte Bobcats will be missed, and we wish him well with his new team.”

The Charlotte Bobcats, who became the NBA’s 30th franchise when they joined the league in 2004-05, enter their sixth season in 2009-10.

Read NBA fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum thread.