In true Sam Presti fashion, the Thunder shipped off star center Al Horford Friday morning to build for the future.
Oklahoma City’s general manager received Celtics guard Kemba Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 draft and a 2025 second-round draft pick in exchange for Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Here are SI Thunder’s grades for the first major trade of the offseason:
Nick Crain’s Grades:
Every team in the entire NBA clearly knew that Al Horford was going to be traded this offseason, yet somehow Sam Presti found the leverage he needed to get a huge return. Adding another quality first round pick is great, but I still think Kemba Walker is the diamond in this deal. Sure, he was injured a ton last season and didn’t play to his standards, but he’s just one season removed from making four-consecutive All-Star teams. Whether he plays out his contract in OKC or is flipped again, this was a great move fo the Thunder.
Sam Presti was extremely high on Moses Brown, so good for the Celtics in getting him in the deal. Look, this was a deal to save Boston money while also bringing in a guy they’re familiar with. Horford played the best basketball of his career with the Celtics and fits their system. It’s a move that needed to be made, but will they regret giving up that first round pick?
Ryan Chapman’s Grades
Sam Presti got exactly what he wanted.
Al Horford is no longer a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and in return Presti found himself more draft assets.
Expecting Kemba Walker to be a part of the Thunder organization long term or to expedite OKC’s rebuild is probably a bride too far, but he can still come in and help Oklahoma City’s young core grow as leaders off the court, while adding a little more firepower to the backcourt when Walker is healthy and on the court.
Even if Walker doesn’t play a minute for the Thunder, acquiring yet another first round draft pick to give Presti more flexibility to wheel and deal on draft night is a great move for OKC.
The Boston Celtics needed out of Kemba Walker’s contract. They were always going to have to give something else away to make amends for their mistake, but they were at least able to acquire a well respected veteran who is already familiar with the franchise in Al Horford.
Recommended for You
Boston also acquired a nice rotational piece in Moses Brown, who came on strong down the stretch for the Thunder at the end of last year. The Celtics need help at center, as exampled by Brown’s monster 21 point 23 rebound performance in Boston.
Having to part ways with first round draft assists likely could have been avoided by not signing Walker to the massive deal anyways, but Brad Stevens did a good job finding a trade that worked for the Celtics and added Horford back into the fold to try and get the best out of Boston’s core.
Derek Parker’s Grades:
I’m experiencing a a bit of deva vu writing this: Sam Presti has yet again traded an “untradeable” contract and come away with assets.
Obviously OKC won’t be keeping Walker longterm, and I think he’ll be the easiest to flip out of the recent veterans to pass through Oklahoma City.
The 16th pick will be huge as far as trading up in the 2021 Draft, which I think its apparent that Presti will do. There’s just not room to develop three new guys on top of the current roster.
Losing Moses Brown is the only thing that warrants the minus, but still the price Presti will gladly pay to do business in this league.
I genuinely believe Boston has reason to walk away excited about the trade as well.
Horford is a perfect match with their current roster, and bolsters their worst position while simultaneously moving on from an odd fit.
Moving on from Brown was probably not an easy thing to do for Presti, so Steven negotiating into that earns him some GM respect points in my book.
The 16th pick should field a solid player, but Boston isn’t in the development stage at this moment in time.