With an open roster spot, one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and with $24 million to play with in cap space, the Oklahoma City Thunder have positioned themselves into a top trade partner come deadline day.
As a result of the Thunder’s flexibility, many have speculated as to how Thunder GM Sam Presti will look to play his cards.
In a piece published by Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report Monday morning, the Thunder netted the list as both potential buyers and sellers of the market.
Here’s the B/R breakdown:
Recommended for You
Suspected Trade Candidates
In Monday’s article, Oklahoma City’s infantry went rather unscathed in terms of trade assets. However, in the pairing of Kenrich Williams and Mike Muscala.
Both Williams and Muscala have sworn their loyalty to Oklahoma City’s rebuild in the last year as Muscala gave his ten cents in last season’s exit interviews while Williams displayed his dedication towards the team in a piece with The Oklahoman earlier in the week.
Despite this, Bleacher Report pegged Williams as a “Dream Target” for the Golden State Warriors while being a “Realistic Target” for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Williams’ market of contenders is to be expected for the 27-year-old as his two-year, $4 million deal places him as a premier budget option while his lethal two-way ability makes him a perfect addition for a championship bench.
In the case of Muscala, Bleacher Report nets the big man as a “Realistic Target” for the Warriors while being a “Sneaky Target” for the Brooklyn Nets.
Muscala’s elite ability as a stretch five positions himself into the cream-of-the-crop for bench fillers as the big has shot a team-high 43.9% from deep on 3.7 attempts per contest. Above all else, his uber-efficient 8.0 points in 13.5 minutes makes him a lethal add-on for bench runs.
The appeal with Muscala is evident for contending teams in the Nets and Warriors, who are looking to play more perimeter-centric ball; though, with the 30-year-old faithful to the Thunder – it’ll be interesting to see if a transaction would be made.
Projected Dream Target:
According to Bleacher Report, tacking on backcourt play is a must for the Oklahoma City Thunder, coining their best target as Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors.
Trent Jr. has been averaging career numbers with the Raptors this season, averaging 16.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists across 33.7 minutes per game.
The article notes Trent Jr.’s youthful age of 23, coupled with his remaining three-year $17.2 million contract as a major plus in securing the groundworks of their rebuild. Additionally, the guard would help aid Oklahoma City’s shooting department, which currently ranks dead last in three-point percentage (31.2%), with a fiery 36.9% shot chart across 7.4 attempts.
Though the 6-foot-5 guard would spark a much-needed upgrade in the shooting department, his contract, along with the team’s current rotation, makes things a murky match.
Oklahoma City has already dealt with major issues in the backcourt department as a five-man guard rotation has placed members in Tre Mann and Ty Jerome on sporadic schedules while tilting last season’s minute leader, Theo Maledon, into a G-League role. Adding Trent Jr. to the mix adds even more weight to this rotation, even hindering players such as Lu Dort and Josh Giddey in the process.
Projected Realistic Target:
Bleacher Report envisions the Oklahoma City Thunder delving into the big man market headed into February, calling up the Orlando Magic for center Mo Bamba.
After failing to receive substantial minutes in his first three seasons, Bamba, the No. 6 pick in the 2018 Draft, was written off as a draft bust.
However, a breakout contract year has yielded a stark stock rise and a starting gig under Jamahl Mosley. In Bamba’s fourth-year burst, he has averaged 10.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in 27.0 minutes a game.
Bamba’s lengthy 7-foot frame, bolstered with a preposterous 7-foot-10 wingspan would side the 23-year-old alongside other hasty seven footers such as Aleksej Pokusevski. Atop Bamba’s size, the center’s inept ability to reject shots, play as a rim-runner, and surprisingly step out from deep (35.5% 3PT) weathers a perfect storm for Mark Daigneault’s vision at the five.
Orlando has mightily bolstered Bamba’s trade value, rising from a toss-up for an extension to a true asset that would require either draft capital or key contributors to fetch the big man, and with league-worst 9-39 record – future selections would be a must in acquiring the seven footer.
At the right price, taking on the big man would jolt Oklahoma City’s current frontcourt while adding a traditional five to the rebuild as the true five would add a new spin on a current group of tweeners in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Isaiah Roby.
Projected Sneaky Target:
Speculated by Bleacher Report, Air Congo is relanding in Oklahoma City.
In a projected trade deal for Serge Ibaka, the Thunder would be positioned back to asset accumulation mode. Though Ibaka has been a solid contributor for the Clippers, his $9.7 million salary is a hefty price to pay, especially with the franchise deep into the luxury tax. To top it all, shipping away the 32-year-old would slice their luxury tax by nearly a third.
For Oklahoma City, any potential trade with the Clippers would need to be made with caution as the Thunder mount control of LA’s first-round picks for the next five draft seasons. As a result, shipping out positive assets may be a no-go move without solid return. Luckily for the Thunder, Ibaka’s deal concludes after this season, meaning that any move involving Ibaka would be for the short-term.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder can tack on a pair of second-round selections, absorbing Ibaka’s deal in the name of LA owners' pockets would be a solid return.