Five potential Thunder trade partners

Five potential Thunder trade partners

Here are five teams the Thunder could do business with as we head into the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Jon Hamm

By Jon Hamm

| Jan 30, 2024, 3:00pm CST

Jon Hamm

By Jon Hamm

Jan 30, 2024, 3:00pm CST

The Oklahoma City Thunder could be open for business ahead of next week’s trade deadline.

To be clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean wholesale changes. With a record of 32-15, the formula works. 

But Sam Presti and the Thunder have never been the type to idle. Sometimes teams need to find a leverage point to make trades move. It could be that another team needs to shed salary, wants to begin a rebuild or simply has a rotational need to address.

Some teams may need to act now. Teams will payrolls over the luxury tax, and deep into areas called the first and second aprons, will face tighter trade restrictions once the deadline passes, heading into the June draft and July offseason. The Thunder are positioned to take on salary next season and, potentially, a year or so beyond.

Here are five teams the Thunder could do business with as we head into the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Golden State 

The Warriors are in a pickle. If the season ended today, Golden State would miss the playoffs and play-in completely. Klay Thompson will be a free agent if the two sides don’t agree to an extension before June 30. Payroll could be around $145 million heading into the offseason — assuming Chris Paul is waived and Thompson is set free — which would give them much-needed flexibility. If Thompson returns or if the Warriors choose to use Paul’s contract to acquire talent, Golden State will be right back in a financial straitjacket, with limited means to make further improvements.

Paul may be traded by the deadline as the Warriors search for answers to reignite the team. Golden State may also try to offload Andrew Wiggins along with picks or a prospect to clear up future cap sheets.

There may not be a direct 1-to-1 trade between the Warriors and Thunder that makes a lot of sense. But if a third or fourth team was needed to complete a complicated trade, OKC has financial relief, prospects, draft capital, or all of the above to put into the right deal.

Milwaukee

The Bucks may not be done making changes after firing coach Adrian Griffin and replacing him with Doc Rivers. Milwaukee is also on pace to have a huge payroll that pushes past the restrictive second apron next season. They could be on the lookout for a trade that both shores up the team this season and gives them salary relief for the next one.

Bobby Portis would fit as a former Arkansas Razorback, but probably not regarding the other on-court skills that OKC desires. A decent case could be made for adding a solid vet with deep playoff experience like Pat Connaughton. But much like with Golden State, the Bucks and Thunder could piece together a larger deal involving more teams that helps both squads.

Charlotte

Last week’s trade that sent Terry Rozier to Miami for the expiring contract of Kyle Lowry and a future first-round pick may be the first of several housecleaning moves. The Hornets may retool around LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller, and Mark Williams. And if they are looking for future draft capital, the Thunder is your one-stop megabank.

Gordon Hayward, in the last season of his contract, and PJ Washington are interesting fits in OKC. Washington is in the first year of a three-year deal that decreases in value each season. Unlike Golden State and Milwaukee, there might be some straightforward swaps between OKC and Charlotte that make sense.

Washington

The Wizards reportedly have “a mandate” from ownership to acquire first-round picks at the trade deadline, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

The Thunder is not the only NBA team with a stockpile of draft picks. The Pelicans, Rockets, Nets, Knicks, and Jazz also have a charcuterie board of picks. Some of those teams may be highly motivated to strike deals before the deadline.

None of those teams have deep connections to the Thunder. Former OKC front office executives Michael Winger and Will Dawkins are calling the shots for the Wizards. Former Thunder assistant coach Brian Keefe is now the interim Wizards head coach. Familiarity never hurts. 

Forward Deni Advija and sharpshooting wing Corey Kispert would be interesting Thunder additions. As would forward Kyle Kuzma — a member of the Lakers 2020 NBA championship squad — if OKC opted to shake things up.

Memphis

The Grizzlies’ season never got off the ground. The team stumbled to a 6-19 start while Ja Morant served a 25-game suspension. His season ended after nine games played due to a shoulder injury. He’s but one of several Grizzlies nursing major injuries.

The Memphis payroll is in a good place headed into next season — under the luxury tax line barring other major moves — but the Grizzlies front office has a pattern. They tend to move off of pricey veterans in favor of first-round draftees. Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, and DeAnthony Melton have moved on in recent years. Memphis could be open to moving veterans like Marcus Smart or Luke Kennard. Forward Brandon Clarke could be an option as well, though he may miss the entire season while recovering from an Achilles tear.

Even if some of those players aren’t on OKC’s wish list, the Thunder could be part of a deal if it helps them land someone they have targeted elsewhere.

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