Tyson Chandler headed to Oklahoma City?

The answer is yes, according to Marc Stein’s sources.

Sources with knowledge of the trade parameters told ESPN.com that the deal was approved by the league office Tuesday afternoon, with the Hornets receiving forwards Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox in exchange for their best interior defender.

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.

The Thunder also possess numerous draft picks to sweeten trade packages — including five first-round picks in the next two drafts — but Presti was able to land an accomplished center to complement his promising young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green without surrendering any major draft considerations.

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.

“…even though dealing away the 26-year-old almost certainly takes the Hornets out of serious playoff contention in the West.”

This is the first time that I can remember (though I’m sure there have been other cases) that a serious title contender traded away one of its best players for financial reasons.


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