Arguably no team in the NBA is better equipped heading into the Feb. 10 trade deadline than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With an endless amount of draft picks, plenty of salary cap room and even a few interesting rotational players, Thunder GM Sam Presti’s phone is likely to be busy as the deadline approaches from teams across the league.
The Thunder currently sit $23 million below the salary floor; meaning there is an incentive for the Thunder front office to take on salary by the deadline.
There aren’t a ton of obvious sellers, but a report from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer indicates that with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s injuries, the Clippers could be in the market to trim the fat on its roster.
It appears that the first name on the Clippers’ chopping block could be 32-year-old Serge Ibaka, who spent the first seven years of his career in Oklahoma City.
Obviously, anyone who has kept up with the Thunder’s trade habits in the last few years knows where all of the Clippers first round picks are located, but it might just take a second rounder or two to get this one done as Ibaka has been relegated to a bit-part player for the Clippers this year.
Ibaka will have $3.1 Million left on his contract at the deadline and the Thunder are sitting in the perfect position to take that on, have a reunion with the former Thunder fan-favorite, and as ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out — help the Clippers avoid $41 Million in luxury tax along the way.
Just recently, Presti did a smaller version of this deal acquiring a second round pick to help the Utah Jazz get rid of Miye Oni’s contract.
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This is just one kind of trade the Thunder are capable of.
Kenrich Williams and Mike Muscala have been in rumor mills all season as cheaper deadline acquisitions that playoff teams could bring in to fill out their rosters. Neither would cost a team substantial capitol, but have enough value that presti could see reason to take a deal for them.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the other kind of player acquisition. Instead of — or possibly in addition to — taking on an aging player's salary, the Thunder could go for a young player for the future.
The good news of the Thunder is there’s no shortage of those around the league.
Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, Coby White, Jalen Smith; Presti won’t be short on options if he chooses to go for this path.
Whatever Presti’s plan is going into the deadline, he should be one of the first calls for just about any team in the league looking to make a deal.