Third Annual Oklahoma City Thunder Trade Value Extravaganza
I’ve done it twice, and now for a third time, I present to you the Oklahoma City Thunder Trade Value Extravaganza. Let’s have a little fun with the trade deadline looming next Thursday at 2:00 p.m. CT.
The rules for this column are as follows: “Trade value” means, “who would be the most attractive trade bait?” This takes into account several factors such as talent, potential, salary, contract, and anything else my esteemed opinion deems valuable. Moreover, the intent is not prognosticate any actual trade scenarios. Basically, this is one man’s rambling thoughts on subjective player “value” and probably has little basis in reality.
14. Nick Collison (last year: 14)
Contract remaining: 1 year, $1,471,382
Appearing in just eight games this season, Collison is likely in the final year of an NBA career spent entirely with the Thunder/Sonics organization. Collison will retire as a member of the Thunder.
13. Kyle Singler (last year: 12)
Contract remaining: 3 years, $14,996,000 (final year, team option)
Singler, also, has appeared in just eight games this year, most of it in mop-up duty. A career 36 percent three-point shooter, Singler has shot just 30 percent from deep while in Oklahoma City, and has never been able to amount to a reliable player. He’s on a cheap contract but I just don’t see team’s clamoring to add a 29-year-old player whose last three years have been a wasteland. He’s what you call, “filler.”
12. Dakari Johnson (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 2 years, $2,193,857
Dakari has two things going for him, he’s young and he’s cheap. He filled in admirably when Steven Adams was out and is a big body with enough NBA skills to be worthy of a roster spot. But he’s also slow (I mean, one of his nicknames is literally SlowMo), and is a bit of a relic of days gone by, as the center position is mostly occupied by versatile bigs. Johnson probably has little trade value.
11. Josh Huestis (last year: 13)
Contract remaining: 1 year, $1,471,382
Huestis is one of three guys on the roster who are what I call, “athletic but unskilled.” Huestis has had his share of highlight-worthy plays, a powerful putback or a dramatic swat. But he can’t shoot (36 percent from the field, 29 percent from three) and is an average defender. So while he has raw talent, he must learn to develop that talent into reliable skill, and, frankly, he’s just not a rotation-level player yet. His contract, though expiring, is so little it’s not worth much in trade talks. However, the biggest indication of his value (or lack thereof) is that the Thunder declined the 2018-19 option.
10. Jerami Grant (last year: 9)
Contract remaining: 1 year, $1,524,305
Grant is the second of the three “athletic but unskilled” players on the team. Supremely athletic and versatile, Grant has the potential to be an incredible asset, but he also can’t shoot (he shoots just 24 percent from three), he fouls a lot, and he’s not a reliable defender. He will show you flashes of being a capable player — he’s developing more skill and touch around the basket — but not enough that you can trust him for large swaths of the game. I guess he’s a little better Josh Huestis, basically.
9. Raymond Felton (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 1 year, $1,471,382
First, let’s give it up to Sam Presti for one of the signings of the offseason, nabbing Felton for the veteran’s minimum. He’s been excellent off the bench for the Thunder, shooting 35 percent from three and leading a better-than-expected bench unit. He’s just the kind of backup point guard the Thunder needs, and, in fact, the type of backup PG that many teams need. He’s got more value than you might expect, then, as playoff teams need a guy like Felton, but for that reason, I can’t imagine the Thunder would trade him.
8. Patrick Patterson (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 3 years, $16,354,800 (final year, player option)
All the things said about Felton could equally apply to Patterson (except the fact that Patterson isn’t a PG). Players like Patterson are absolutely critical for teams looking to make deep runs. Solid defensively and offensively, not prone to make poor decisions and on a value contract. The biggest hangup with 2Pat is that he is a bit undersized for a PF (standing at 6’9”), but he makes up with it with solid defensive IQ. Again, like Felton, if Patterson were available, you could bet many a playoff contenders would be interested.
7. Alex Abrines (last year: 7)
Contract remaining: 2 years, $11,180,236
Oh Alex. You look at his skill set, an elite shooter, and solid offensive player, and you think, “this guy should get buckets.” Yet, he doesn’t. When he shares the court with any of the “OK3,” he gets lost offensively, and he’s a defensive mess, unable to stay in front of skilled wing players. His defense has limited his role, as his minutes have declined over last season, and he’s piled up the DNPs. But the dude can shoot (38 percent from three). His contract is also a relative bargain, considering his skill set, which makes him a valuable asset for a team that has a more organized offense (rather than the iso-heavy offense of the Thunder). I’ve said this in other columns, but you put Abrines on the Spurs and he would be a massive weapon. Unfortunately for his trade value, he’s with the Thunder, a team that hasn’t figured out how to use him.
6. Carmelo Anthony (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 2 years, $54,171,900 (final year, player option)
Anthony has a no-trade clause, so that’s not too good for his trade value. He still carries significant name recognition and is one of the great scorers in modern NBA history. The more signs of progress he shows at adapting to a lesser role, the more his value goes up. No longer the same talent he was when he single-handedly carried the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs years ago, Melo is a player that still must be defended and can shoot a team out of a jam in the right situation. That being said, he’s an aging player who’s increasingly one-dimensional. He also possesses a player option at an amount that is well above his actual value, which makes him a scary proposition for a team paying the luxury tax (like, uh, OKC).
5. Terrance Ferguson (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 4 years, $10,323,693 (final two years, team option)
Ferguson is the third “athletic but unskilled” player, but being a rookie, presumably has more potential. He’s got great length, he can jump out of the building, and they say he can shoot (though he’s struggled, shooting just 29 percent from three). His instincts are raw but improving — he’s progressing as a help defender. He’s getting minutes, in part due to a lack of quality depth on the wing, but now in larger part with Andre Roberson sidelined for the season, but he’s not really the kind of player you want playing big minutes in the playoffs. Alas, while full of raw potential, Ferguson should be stewing on the bench rather than starting for a purported contender. But, if you’re a lottery team looking to add young talent, you’d definitely be interested in buying low on Ferguson, which makes him the best trade asset the Thunder has, as the next four guys are locks to be with the team through the deadline.
4. Andre Roberson (last year: 6)
Contract remaining: 3 years, $30,000,000
You’ve seen the numbers, no doubt, about how the Thunder’s defense falls off a cliff when Roberson sits. So, because Roberson has proven to be a critical part of the team’s success, I graded him as healthy even though with his season-ending injury, he has zero trade value. Ironically, Roberson’s injury converted the Thunder from opportunistic shoppers to likely aggressive buyers. Get well soon, Dre.
3. Steven Adams (last year: 2)
Contract remaining: 4 years, $100,000,000
Adams, whose $100 million contract was described as an overpay last season, is one of three guys whose value is so high he’s untouchable. Seriously, I can’t fathom any trade where the Thunder would be willing to part with the Big Kiwi. He’s perfect for this team. Athletic enough to defend from the paint out to the perimeter, one of the best offensive rebounders in the game, impressive touch around the rim, and dynamic on the pick and roll — Adams is the ultimate compliment to Russell Westbrook. He’s also really funny.
2. Paul George (last year: NR)
Contract remaining: 2 years, $40,212,342 (final year, player option)
By now you’ve heard the rumors that the Los Angeles Clippers floated a Blake Griffin for Paul George swap. We already knew that Paul George is the Thunder’s second-most valuable asset, but the fact that Sam Presti declined a superstar (Griffin) under a long-term contract to keep a player who could leave at the end of the season for nothing (George), speaks volumes. George is the kind of talent that would fit on any roster — skilled offensively and elite defensively. So yeah, he’s got some pretty serious trade value.
1. Russell Westbrook (last year: 1)
Contract remaining: 4 years, $186,898,608
All-Star, All-NBA, MVP, scoring champion, and only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double for the whole season, Westbrook is one of the top three players in the world. And now, Westbrook, for the second year in a row, is number one on my list of Thunder trade value.