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A note from the editor:
One thing Sam Presti avoids, for good or bad, is being late to a decision. The James Harden trade was the first quick-strike move that took us by surprise when a contract negotiation impasse and looming restricted free agency were enough writing on the wall for the GM to make his mind up. Hamidou Diallo’s trade this week is not nearly as stunning as the Harden deal, but selling high on a 22-year-old rather than inviting the open market to have a say this summer is another early bird special.
The first Paul George trade came suddenly, and the second shockingly ahead of anyone’s expectations. The groundwork was laid for the Clippers blockbuster two summers prior–with a flexible contract arrangement and open line of communication between player and team.
It is also too early for Moses Brown to get serious playing time on an NBA team. The same is true for Aleksej Pokusevski. But the Thunder are closer to teams all-in for the playoffs in the standings–Chicago, Golden State, Toronto, Atlanta, to name a few–than the bottom-3 of the standings, where the lottery odds are juiciest. Perhaps OKC would rather be too early to administer playing time than too late to tank.
If Presti sees what the rest of the scouting world does in the top-5 of the 2021 draft class, the Diallo trade will just be the earliest of others this month. As young and frisky as Oklahoma City’s roster already is, it can get younger and, frankly, worse.
A lot of activity at the trade deadline is hyped by discussions but stifled by the same, because waiting on one set of options for a potential deal tables your consideration of a deal to follow it. But remember the historic flurry of trades this past offseason. If Presti and company have plans to be aggressive, they will execute said plan (A, B, or Zed) without waiting for one domino to slow the overall rebuild game down.
Set your clocks forward. We probably won’t be counting down to 2 p.m. on March 25 to hear about the next Thunder move.
– Cray Allred