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The Oklahoma City Thunder’s short history has a long history of drafting MVPs. From Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook to James Harden, the first era of OKC hoops was rich in eventual Most Valuable Players.
Turns out, the second era of Thunder basketball already owns the draft rights to an MVP and champion waiting in the wings across the water.
Meet Vasilije Micic.
Over the past six days, the 6’6” Serbian point guard has won EuroLeague MVP, the EuroLeague championship and the EuroLeague Finals MVP. Micic has accomplished more in a week than most basketball players do in an entire career. And he may be joining fellow countryman and fellow future MVP Aleksej Pokusevski in OKC sometime this summer.
When Sam Presti traded away Dennis Schroder to the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers last offseason, many Thunder fans were initially a little underwhelmed with the return for the should’ve-been 6th Man of the Year: the 28th pick in the 2020 draft and Danny Green. Well, that 1st round draft pick was combined with OKC’s 25th overall pick and Ricky Rubio to land Poku. And Danny Green was combined with Terrance Ferguson to acquire Philly’s 2025 1st round pick, Al Horford, Theo Maledon and Micic. At the time, it seemed like Vasilije was a throw-in, as the 76ers had hoped in vain for a few seasons that the dynamic Micic would make his way to the NBA. Now, it seems like the draft rights to an MVP and champion of the world’s second greatest basketball league has some significant value to the Thunder.
OKC has a three pronged win-win-win decision to make with Micic.
Behind Door #1, the Serbian star plays with the Thunder, instantly becomes one of OKC’s best players and packs a salty 1-2 scoring and playmaking punch with SGA. There is one crippling issue with this timeline: Micic is in the athletic prime of his career at 27 years old. On this Thunder team, that age would get him fitted for dentures and Depends faster than fitted for an OKC Statement Jersey featuring Love’s Patch.
Door #2, Sam Presti’s favorite the past two offseasons, contains the riches of future draft picks from a contender for a win-now player. Some would argue an unproven foreign player is worth only a 2nd rounder or two, but I’m bullish that OKC could get a late 1st round pick for a EuroLeague MVP in his prime.
Door #3 is my personal favorite: Presti packaging Micic to move up in and maximize the 2021 draft.
Now, there is one colossal caveat to all of this: nobody has any idea if Micic will actually decide to make the jump to the NBA next season.
On April 8, a report came from respected and credible EuroLeague reporter Chema de Lucas that Micic had turned down a renewal offer from his current team, Anadolu Efes, as well as a new contract offer from Real Madrid. The bigger news being that Micic would officially join the Thunder next season. OKC fans, understandably thirsty for good news about talented players wishing to move into instead of out of the 405, typed out “Vasomething Micic highlights” into their YouTube search bars by the tens of thousands.
How do you say “not so fast” in Serbian?
On April 12, Micic’s agent Misko Raznatovic responded to the reports of his client’s Thunder future: “This is completely false information. It’s not possible at this time of the year to talk seriously with NBA teams. I believe he is the best guard in Europe and he deserves to be in the NBA. And I really believe that he will be next year in the NBA at OKC or somewhere else. We will know in July”.
Okay, but still, that sounded pretty promising for the Thunder. As long as he planned on playing in the NBA, OKC would benefit whether via his play on the court or via trade.
Ne tako brzo! (Thanks, Google Translate).
On June 1, Raznatovic had more Micic media morsels: “He is ready to be a great player in the NBA, but I am not sure that it will happen this year. I won’t allow for Micić to have the same faith NBA as Vassilis Spanoulis did, to sit on the bench. Micić won’t go until everything is right – maybe this year, maybe not. Everything is still open – if the NBA is not good enough and fair enough towards him, they will have to wait for Vasa for another year.”
First off, apparently we can call Vasilije just “Vasa”, so that’s a huge sigh of relief for any upcoming podcasts or radio bits because I had fully resigned myself to butchering his name. Or just rush mumbling through it so fast that nobody would realize I have no idea how to say it correctly.
More importantly, this is the first time that a bit of doubt has been cast on Micic’s NBA leap. Hopefully this is merely typical agent posturing to ensure the best situation for his player. It sounds like playing time, role, and possibly a starting spot may be more important than being on a contender or a big market with fancy opera houses.
Fresh off a championship and an MVP, the consensus opinion from international fans and analysts is that Micic has nothing left to prove in the EuroLeague and that he’ll make his way to the NBA.
If he’s anything like one former OKC MVP, none of us will know Micic’s next chapter until the July issue of The Players’ Tribune hits Twitter newsstands.