10 Players the New Orleans Pelicans gave up on way too soon

New Orleans Pelicans, Chris Paul (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Pelicans, Chris Paul (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
8 of 10
New Orleans Pelicans, Tyson Chandler
New Orleans Pelicans, Tyson Chandler (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

3. Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler was the second overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, and he spent his first five NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls. The seven-footer showed plenty of flashes, but he struggled with foul issues, so Chicago decided to trade him to the Pelicans for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith in the summer of 2006.

Chandler was the unquestioned starting center in New Orleans, and he led the league in total offensive rebounds in his first two years. His fouls came down, which allowed his minutes to go up. He had instant chemistry with Chris Paul and shot over 62 percent from the field in each of his first two seasons. Chandler had one of the best years of his career in New Orleans, where he averaged 11.8 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game as a 25-year-old.

The then-Hornets had one of their best seasons in 2008, with Chandler at center. They pushed the Spurs to seven games in the second round of the playoffs, and New Orleans felt like a threat to win that series and make their first-ever conference finals.

Injuries limited Chandler to just 45 regular season games in the 2008-2009 season, and New Orleans attempted to trade him to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the deadline. But the deal was rescinded after an issue with Chandler’s medical. They were successful in moving in the 2009 offseason to Charlotte.

All Tyson Chandler did from there was win Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, make the All-Defensive teams three times, and become an All-Star. The seven-footer also won a championship with the Mavericks in 2011 and became one of the best defensive big men of his generation after leaving New Orleans.