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The Oklahoma City Thunder have three 1st round picks and three 2nd round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. That’s 10% of the entire rookie class. The Thunder also have the GM who broke the Guinness World Record for most trades in a one week span last offseason. It doesn’t take a world record breaking brain to realize OKC will be making one or two or nine draft day trades on July 29.
But what kind of trades can we expect from Sam Presti and which teams will he choose to fleece this time around? I’ve rounded up five of my favorite examples of hypothetical Thunder trades.
#6 overall pick + Lu Dort to Toronto for #4 overall pick. This one is so spicy that most people are going to spit it out before they even chew on it. You love Lu Dort. I love Lu Dort. The Canadian national team and coach Nick Nurse love Lu Dort. They’ve also shown draft interest in Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga. Which is why this trade makes sense for both teams. The question becomes, would you trade Lu Dort and Scottie Barnes for Jalen Suggs? It’s no no-brainer by any means, but the Gonzaga guard is one of the four supposed slam dunk stars of the draft. And he’s likely the one who falls farthest. If OKC nabs Suggs, Sam Presti can rest easy knowing he should have what will become one of the NBA’s best backcourts locked up for the 2020’s. Or at least it better be if you’re trading away a Thunder fan favorite and SGA’s BFF.
#18 to New Orleans for #10 + Eric Bledsoe. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram have made it clear they enjoying playing with young free agents to be Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. The Pelicans need to do everything they can now to keep their star duo happy later or else risk another Anthony Davis situation. But they have 18.1 million problems and a Bledsoe ain’t the one. That’s Sammy’s song. The Pelicans get wiggle room to keep their young talent and maybe spend a little in free agency and OKC says goodbye Garuba, bonjour Bouknight.
Protected 2nd round pick to Brooklyn for Deandre Jordan + #27. Jordan goes from Mark Cuban going house to house knocking on every door in Dallas trying to sign him away from the Clippers to being a salary dump in Brooklyn. This is a layup for the Thunder and exactly why Sam Presti values clean cap space so highly during this rebuild. OKC gets a free late 1st rounder that can be used on a buzz-worthy rookie like JT Thor, Josh Christopher or Tre Mann just for a fake pick and adding $9.8 million over the next two years. Indirectly helping Kevin Durant win a title is the only potential negative here.
#6 + #16 to Cleveland for #3 + Kevin Love. Rumor is the Cavs are open to shopping their pick for a young, star level player. OKC is unfortunately lacking those besides SGA and Lu Dort. Shai is off the table, despite what Kevin Pelton and Tim Bontemps suggest. I already traded Lu once this article and cannot bring myself to trade that man twice in under 800 words. So what if OKC can help the Cavs keep their own young talent? Cleveland wants to win now, but Love’s $60 million over the next two years makes the prospect of keeping Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen problematic. The Thunder can put Kevin in a Love’s patch and the Cavs can secure their young talent and add a mid-1st round pick, all for the simple price of three little draft spots. Like the Raptors, the Cavs have supposed interest in Kuminga and Barnes. The Thunder will be guaranteed one of Evan Mobley or Jalen Green.
#16 + #18 to Sacramento for #9. This will be déjà vu for the Kings. In 2017, Sacramento traded away the #10 overall pick for picks #15 and #20. The Kings wouldn’t mind adding more young talent to their squad, while OKC has so many picks and only so many open roster spots. While the Thunder would forfeit the opportunity to draft two of the likes of Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Johnson, Ziaire Williams and Usman Garuba, they move up one tier and mosey into Moses Moody, Josh Giddey, James Bouknight and Alperen Sengun territory.
Over the next four weeks, expect Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit to be filled with Thunder trade speculation because every NBA fan knows OKC will wheel and deal. Some will be realistic and most will make you roll your eyes. But this is Sam Presti we’re talking about, so nothing is off the table.
Except for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. So stop asking for him, Raptors fans.