The Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans started off NBA Draft week with a bang.
Memphis sent Jonas Valanciunas and picks No. 17 and 51 to the Pelicans for former Thunder center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, the 10th and 40th pick in the upcoming draft and a 2022 first-round pick that the Grizzlies owned from the Lakers.
And while Thunder fans will no doubt be happy to see Adams paired with another explosive guard in Ja Morant, the trade could potentially alter Sam Presti’s plans ahead of the NBA Draft.
It was reported that Presti has little motivation to bring three rookies into camp on guaranteed contracts, which would be exactly the case if Oklahoma City ends up taking all three of their first-round draft picks (No. 6, 16 and 18) on Thursday evening.
The speculation has been that Presti’s solution would be to pair the 16th and 18th picks in a package to try and vault back up into the back end of the top 10.
Previously, New Orleans may have been a target for such a move at No. 10, but it’s unlikely the Grizzlies would take the pick in just to ship it back out to OKC on draft night.
Memphis has been heavily linked with Australian playmaker Josh Giddey, who would make sense for them at 10. The 18-year-old averaged 11.4 points per game last season for the Adelaide 36ers last season in the NBL, also adding 7.4 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game.
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Less than an hour before the trade, a report circulated that the Thunder made a “legitimate” trade offer for the Pistons’ No. 1-overall pick, but were turned down. As the draft approaches, starting at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, the board is getting smaller for Presti.
But he still has more ammunition than any general manager in the NBA, and it’s not even close.
Not only do the Thunder own 10 percent (yes, that’s a real number) of the picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, they also have 30 additional draft picks to their name over the following six years.
Moving up in a draft with as much talent as is projected in the 2021 draft pool was always going to be an expensive endeavor, but the Thunder are still well positioned to make a few moves on draft night.