According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Denver Nuggets will trade big man Joffrey Lauvergne to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for two future 2nd round picks. (Apparently Denver loves to receive second round picks from the Thunder in pairs.) The 24-year old Frenchman played in 59 games last season, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 17.6 minutes of game action. He shot 51.3% from the field, 24.5% from deep, and an impressive 90% from the line. Lauvergne is scheduled to make $1.71 million this season and fit into the Thunder’s available cap space.
With this trade, the Thunder’s roster sits at 16 guaranteed contracts. They will need to trim the roster down to 15 by the beginning of the season. With that in mind, there is likely another move on the horizon for the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s recent moves suggest they may be preparing for a bigger trade, possibly involving one of their rotational big men or maybe even second year point guard Cameron Payne. Lauvergne’s game is very similar to that of Enes Kanter’s, even matching their defensive struggles. Where they differ is on the boards. Kanter is a lot better at using his frame to carve out space for rebounds. The question now becomes: are a few more rebounds per game worth $15 million (the difference in salary between Kanter and Lauvergne)?
Sam Presti’s number one mission in life right now is to obtain as much cap space as possible, while keeping the Thunder’s young core of Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, and Andre Roberson intact. In order to achieve that, trading someone like Kanter could definitely be in the cards. The move for Lauvergne could soften the blow of losing Kanter, who was so instrumental to the success of the Thunder last season. The loss of Kevin Durant this offseason shifted the focus of this organization from full-on contention to more of a one year time table for a reload. Something big is coming. The hardest part about it is being patient.