1. What are the Thunder going to do at the trade deadline?
I’m gonna keep it 100 with you all. Not a single person covering the Thunder has, had or will have any inkling what Sam Presti plans on doing at this year’s, last year’s, next year’s or 2052’s trade deadline. OKC’s staff and crew are tighter lipped than the MCU’s cast and crew. You’d have better luck plundering plot twists of this summer’s Thor: Love and Thunder than you would possible player trades of this Thursday’s Love’s Patch Thunder.
2. Okay, well, are the Thunder going to do anything?
Yes. OKC has the most cap space in the league. Strike that. OKC has the only cap space in the league. And they have a plethora. In fact, OKC has more cap space than El Guapo has piñatas. Unless he can come up with $34.6 million worth of piñatas. So one team has enough space to absorb a max contract and likes to collect draft picks like middle school me collected 90s Fleer basketball cards, while another 29 teams would like to save money. The math is easy. Bad contract + 1st round pick = role player + cap savings.
3. Will the Thunder trade for a win-now player?
No. The only win-now players the Thunder are interested in at the moment are named Jabari, Chet, Paolo, Jaden and AJ, and they can’t be acquired until July 29th.
4. Will the Thunder trade for Russell Westbrook?
No. While it’s tough for Thunder faithful to witness the Brodie being slandered for his play in LA, there just isn’t an avenue for a reunion at this time. Russ obviously doesn’t fit the new timeline, nor does he desire to play for a rebuilding team. He’d help win too many games (stop snickering) and hurt OKC’s lottery odds. His contract is so big that it would damage all cap flexibility and force Clay Bennett and Friends to pay a luxury bill for a rebuilding squad. The Lakers only have one future 1st round draft pick (2027) to trade to OKC, which is not nearly enough compensation. And the Lakers still want to contend (okay, you can snicker now), and despite what most think, Russ still gives LA a higher ceiling than any piece OKC would be willing to let go. Not to mention, this is SGA’s team now. That said, sign me the Thunder up for a one year King of the Prairie farewell tour as a senior discount sub on a Finals contending team led by All Stars SGA, Josh Giddey and Victor Wembanyama in 2025.
5. How about the Tobias Harris rumors?
Doubtful… but maybe. James Stewart of Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub reported there was buzz about OKC being involved in a James Harden/Ben Simmons trade as a third team that would take on Harris’s bloated contract. The issue isn’t the dollar amount, though absorbing $37.5 million for three years would extinguish all cap flexibility. The issue isn’t even compensation, as Daryl Morey has plenty of 1st round picks and young players to dangle. The first issue is that third year. That’s when Kemba is off the books and ideally when OKC would want to push in their chips and compete again, not be anchored by a $39.2 million tank remnant. The second issue is that Tobias Harris is really good. So good that he would absolutely alter the fragile #4 lottery odds position the Thunder currently inhabit. If OKC trades for Tobias and SGA returns after the All Star Break, it’s bye bye Banchero and oh hai TyTy.
6. Any chance the Thunder trade away Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?
No. This isn’t a Bleacher Report article.
7. Who is most likely to be traded?
Kenrich Williams. Hey, don’t get mad at me, you asked! For all the reasons why he’s become a Thunder fan favorite, front offices around the league are savvy on Kenny Hustle. NBA executives and coaches know Williams makes winning plays offensively and defensively and that he’s on one of the best bargain bin contracts in the league. OKC would like to keep him. He has said he would like to retire in OKC. But with so many contending teams unable to find a difference maker because of salary constraints, Kenrich and his $2 million paycheck has become a hot commodity. He’s the best win-now player the Thunder might be willing to deal, and trading him away would also help OKC lose-now. But Kenny isn’t hustling anywhere unless OKC receives a 1st round pick.
8. Is Lu Dort untouchable?
No… but kinda. The only two players truly off limits are SGA and Giddey. But Presti’s price for an opposing team to purchase their own Dorture Chamber will be so high that it’s unlikely to be met. The Thunder see Dort as a key member of the young core. Lu’s combination of youth, defensive chops, offensive upside, yearly improvement, high character and crazy value contract surely makes him appealing to playoff teams. And are all the reasons why OKC will keep him unless they get [Brando voice] an offer they can’t refuse.
9. Does Derrick Favors have any trade value?
No. The OKC Thunder Rehab Center for Players Who Can’t Play Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too worked wonders for Chris Paul and Al Horford, but OKC’s history of transforming washed players into draft picks will not continue with Favors. Though he could still be dealt as outgoing smaller salary in a bigger contract dump.
10. Can you at least make a prediction?
Okay, okay. I’ll say the Jazz dump Joe Ingles and his $13 million along with a lightly protected 1st round pick for Kenny Hustle. Jazz save millions in luxury tax and improve their roster, Thunder gets a blue chip current middle schooler and a mentor and an Aussie Bestie for Giddey. And the Clippers fly first class Air Congo back to OKC. LAC saves big money and the Thunder get a couple 2nd round picks and the satisfaction of knowing they helped make the Clippers’ 2022 1st rounder a lottery pick for themselves.
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On Friday, a “report” came out stating that LeBron James would be willing to leave the Los Angeles Lakers to play with his son, LeBron James Jr. (aka Bronny). Now, I’m not sure how much of this is actual investigative journalism and how much of this is an assumption everyone has had since LeBron’s son was born, but Kyle Kuzma, former teammate of James, threw some Thunder fuel on the fire, tweeting that “Presti about to sell the farm [to draft Bronny].”
Though Kuzma was joking (or was he?), it does setup an interesting question. OKC has the rights to 3 first-round picks in the 2024 NBA Draft–the first year LeBron Jr. is eligible. So, assuming some ping pong balls fall the Thunder’s way, OKC has as good a shot as any team at having a chance to draft the son of the NBA legend. Unless, of course, SGA, Giddey, and Dort lead the Thunder out of the the lottery.
I wouldn’t put it past the Thunder to draft Bronny if Sam Presti feels like like he’s the right choice when OKC picks. But I also wouldn’t put it past Presti to capitalize on the Bronny Sweepstakes and sell the chance to draft Bronny to another team desperate to lure LeBron James.
Only two and a half years until we find out…
– John Napier
With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (and Lu Dort more recently) on the sidelines, Josh Giddey has made the most of his chance to shoulder a higher offensive load writes Sam Lane (Inside the Thunder). “At season’s end this time will likely be looked back upon as a blessing in disguise for the progression of Giddey’s game. His scoring ability, his aggressiveness in attack and his willingness to try new things on offense will have all grown from this stretch — something that wouldn’t have been a certainty with Gilgeous-Alexander in the rotation.”
The Athletic is counting down their list of the 75 greatest players in NBA history. Kevin Durant came in at number 13, and in Anthony Slater’s write-up on Durant’s selection, he dropped that the strain between the former Thunder forward and the team is diminishing. “The painful playoff end and bitter 2016 breakup have painted Durant’s Thunder tenure in a tortuous way. The wounds still haven’t fully healed, though — if you talk to people closest to the situation — there’s a growing sense that the relationship between organization, city and greatest player in franchise history is inching back toward a cordial-enough place where everything Durant did there will eventually be embraced as it should.”
Chinmay Vaidya of Draft Kings Nation says the Thunder should consider dealing some of its draft capital to add proven talent. LOL, okay.
Vit Krejci, who has been sidelined since December with an ankle injury, has been assigned to the Oklahoma City Blue. This would indicate that Krejci’s ankle has healed enough to re-start his stint with the G-League affiliate.
Speaking of the Blue, former Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III has been making the most of his opportunity in Tulsa.