Sellout Crowd's Thunder coverage team offers what OKC could, should or will do before 2 p.m. Oklahoma time Thursday.
What’s your dream scenario for the Thunder at the NBA trade deadline?
Berry Tramel: I want to say Wendell Carter Jr. for Josh Giddey, but I don’t see any way the Magic makes that trade, because Orlando needs shooting. So I’ll go Giddey for Naz Reid, the Timberwolves’ backup center. The Thunder’s acute need is acquiring a big man who can play decent defense and/or rebound reasonably well while also spreading the floor with 3-point shooting. Getting a big man who can’t play the five-out formation impacts the Thunder offense too negatively.
Jenni Carlson: Another big man would be the dream. This team has so much potential as is, but against teams with a couple of bigs such Minnesota or Denver or Utah — teams that could lie in wait on OKC’s playoff road — the Thunder needs to add some more inside help. I love Naz Reid, but I get the feeling the Wolves love him, too. So, I’ll go with Nick Richards in Charlotte. 7-footer. 26 years old. Underrated big. Double-double potential. Kentucky product. Ticks a lot of boxes for the Thunder.
Jon Hamm: It’d be swell to get another versatile player with size. I’m thinking of Dorian Finney-Smith from Brooklyn. He’d fit well with creators like SGA and JDub and can defend multiple positions. He’d also give the Thunder another option if Giddey or Kenrich Williams gets picked on too much in a playoff series.
Brett Dawson: While I prefer the idea of adding a backup wing with size… well, frankly, Jon Hamm took my guy off the board. Read on for that. So let’s address the other lack-of-an-elephant in the room. The Thunder could stand to get a little bigger. But a big, plodding space-eater is a bad idea. OKC loves when the opponent plays guys like that. Better, I think, to find a backup big who can be a connector on offense, knock down a 3-pointer and maybe help with The Rebounding Thing. It’s unclear if Utah would be willing to part with Kelly Olynyk, but other than his age — at 32, he’s practically ancient around here — he makes a lot of sense. Olynyk’s a career 37% shooter from 3-point range, he’s averaging a career-high 4.4 assists and he’s playoff-tested. Plus, Olynyk grabs about 20% of available defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor this season and is averaging nine rebounds per 36 minutes. Presti has shown an affinity for Gonzaga bigs (Chet Holmgren, Domantas Sabonis), so why not one more?
What’s the worst thing that could happen for the Thunder at the NBA trade deadline?
Berry: Oh, probably Denver acquiring some depth. Everyone is sleeping on the Nuggets, but they remain a great choice to repeat, and Denver’s only weakness is a lack of rotational players. I guess we could say the same thing about Phoenix, but Denver has more to offer in a trade than do the Suns.
Jenni: More stars on more contenders in the West. Names such as Dejounte Murray (Atlanta), Malcolm Brogdon (Portland), DeMar DeRozan (Chicago) and Kyle Kuzma (Washington) are being thrown around as possible trade targets. Plug one of those guys into Utah or Phoenix or Golden State, and the Western Conference gets even tougher. Not just now but in the future, too.
Brett: The top of the West is so bunched up that even a cleanup move from one of the Thunder’s competitors could prove meaningful. So, what if Minnesota grabs Tyus Jones from the Wizards? He’s been one of the NBA’s best backup point guards in his career and he’d be an insurance policy against an injury to 36-year-old Mike Conley. He’s also from the Minneapolis area, so his addition could be a good-vibes boost.
Jon: Denver is pretty limited in what they can cobble together in a trade. So is Phoenix. I’m watching the Clippers, who could use a proven forward off the bench. They have one last chance to swing a big trade before roster building restrictions are implemented this offseason. There’s a chance they make a stealth trade that shocks people. Heck, what if THEY end up with Finney-Smith?
What will the Thunder most likely do at the trade deadline?
Berry: I think Sam Presti will make a small deal. He almost always makes a deal when the Thunder is in playoff contention — either a deadline deal or signing a buyout veteran. So I would guess he would add someone; perhaps a backup center not of the caliber of Carter/Reid.
Jenni: I don’t see the Thunder making a big move, but I also don’t see it making no move. This is a really good team with tons of tradable assets, most notably all the draft picks. Is a big move likely? No, but I wouldn’t put it past Sam Presti. If he has the chance to get a young player who he believes could be a great player, why wouldn’t he do that? Some might worry that such a thing could mess up this team’s chemistry, but I would counter that if the chemistry is truly as good as it looks to be, it could withstand a big move. The chemistry could be the thing that makes a big move work.
Brett: Chalk it up to the deadline-week inertia, but I’m starting to think standing pat is as likely as anything. Jalen Williams made a point a few weeks ago that part of what’s sparked this Thunder run is a group of players, all around the same age, experiencing the NBA together in similar phases of their careers. Disrupting that is tricky business, as I pointed out in a recent newsletter. Part of me thinks it’s better to assess in the summer and add another piece then.
Jon: Boring answer but I expect some kind of end-of-roster cleanup like last season’s trade of Darius Bazley for Dario Saric. Tweaks seem more likely than a remodel.