Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wilcox and Smith Traded to New Orleans

In what has become an annual February event for this blog, Joe Smith (1993-95) has been traded. What makes this year special is that he was traded along with fellow Terp and Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Chris Wilcox (2000-02). Both Smith and Wilcox were traded to the New Orleans Hornets:
Although he mostly played power forward with the Thunder, Wilcox is expected to start at center. In his seventh season, Wilcox, 6-10, 235 pounds, averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 36 games that included six starts with the Thunder.

Smith, a 14-year veteran power forward, is expected to come off the bench. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 36 games with the Thunder.

Most news stories about the deal are pointing out that the primary motivation for the trade was for New Orleans to dump Tyson Chandler's salary for next season, since both Wilcox and Smith have contracts that expire after the season. In their press release, the Hornets said all the niceties to make it sound like this isn't just salary cap financial maneuvering:
"We were able to get great depth, leadership and experience by making this trade," said Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower. "We felt we needed to increase our overall play of the frontline and Chris Wilcox is a young, athletic player that can score and fit well in our system. We will be able to take advantage of his athleticism and style of play. Joe provides us with much needed depth and someone who can be an integral part of our rotation."

NBA.com points out that Wilcox and Smith were sharing the backup power forward duties in OKC:
Wilcox and Smith have played roughly the same amount of minutes this season. Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft, is averaging 19.2 minutes a game in Oklahoma City while Wilcox is at 19.4 minutes a game. The pair served as backups for second-year forward Jeff Green.

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