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Even in the midst of a playoffs the Thunder weren’t even close to crashing, the NBA is filled with storylines with OKC connections. From disgruntled and discarded players to draft debates to trivial trade talk, the past week has been a nonstop cycle of speculation for Thunder fans.
Here’s the topics that have OKC blogs, Facebook and Twitter water coolers humming:
Barnes vs Kuminga. When the Thunder landed the #6 pick in the draft, the immediate assumption was that Scottie Barnes would be the next man sporting a Loves patch. But the NBA Combine became the Barnes Buzzfest (that sounds like a 90s outdoor rock concert featuring Bush, Soundgarden and Korn). Now the once longed for Kuminga may drop to six and many OKC fans now want nothing to do with the 18-year-old physical specimen. Unless the Thunder trade up or Jalen Suggs somehow falls, odds are either Kuminga or Barnes will be drafted by Sam Presti. And OKC fans will continue fighting over who is better from now until July 29th.
Damian Lillard. Rumors are that Dame is unhappy with how the Chauncey Billups coaching fiasco was handled and the backlash he received for supporting the Blazers’ new coach without prior knowledge of his accusations. One of the most loyal NBA superstars may request a trade out of Portland. No, the Thunder are absolutely not going to give up the treasure trove of assets to say hello to the man who waved goodbye to them just two years ago. Although, he does already have his Thunder colored shoes ready to go just in case.
Ben Simmons. The three time All Star was so heavily criticized on social media for his shooting woes in the playoffs that some of the Tweets made Russell Westbrook blush. But he’s only 24 years old, he does everything besides shooting at an elite level and his trade value is at an all-time low. Next to A Tribe Called Quest, that’s Sam Presti’s favorite song. While there’s a possibility OKC makes a play for Simmons, the feeling is the Thunder want to continue building through the draft another year or two before cashing their chips in for a disgruntled or discarded superstar.
Kawhi Leonard. The injured two-time NBA champ isn’t sitting with his Clippers teammates on the bench. Ruh-roh! Even worse (or better if you’re a fan of a team who owns LA’s future the next five years), rumor is that Kawhi is unhappy with how the Clippers’ medical staff misdiagnosed and handled his knee injury. He said the same thing in San Antonio before he peaced out. Zoinks! Obviously, Leonard isn’t coming to OKC… but Kawhi going anywhere besides LAC is basically a Thunder championship.
Kristaps Porzingis. The only rival Ben Simmons has for biggest playoff punching bag is Porzingis. Once considered a prized running mate for Luka Doncic, that Knicks deal is now dubbed the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade by Mavs fans. Rumors are swirling that Luka and Kristaps aren’t exactly Sam and Frodo level besties as they seek a precious ring together. Porzingis is on a massive deal, has a long injury history and the youngest superstar in the league may want him out of Dallas. He’s only 25, his value is at rock bottom and Presti once gave the OG unicorn a draft promise, so this one makes some sense. Doubtful due to the money and medical red flags, but a deal built around Kemba and Kristaps could come together. Until Sammy asks Mark for a 1st round pick and Cuban throws his phone in a shark tank.
Trading SGA. On a recent episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, Tim Bontemps of ESPN commented he was “watching the SGA situation” because OKC is still in asset accumulation modeand the rest of OKC’s players are teenagers. The Thunder are not going to trade away Shai because he’s a crotchety and decrepit 22 years old. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a player you rebuild your franchise around. He isn’t a player you trade away for a draft pick so that if you’re lucky you can hopefully draft a player like… Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.