SB Nation's NBA group is having a theme day covering the official start of this year's "trade season". It started this Sunday, when teams were finally allowed to trade players acquired in the off-season. It will end on February 20th, shortly after the All-Star game. The following is WTLC's coverage of the Thunder's role in all of this.
Is your team a buyer or seller?
The Thunder are pretty clearly a buyer in this year's trade market. They already have a ton of youth developing on the bench, and they have the tools to win right now. But selling is definitely a distinct possibility, given that the team has "bought" very few times in the past and Sam Presti's philosophy. So I'll go ahead and answer both sets of questions, just so all of our bases are covered.
If buyer, what are the needs?
The Thunder's most obvious weaknesses are at center and shooting guard.
...what position are you looking to improve?
At center, Kendrick Perkins is a albatross of a contract and a shell of his former self. He's had a few relatively decent games recently, but most Thunder fans are ready to have a center that does something tangible, rather than living on his voice in the lockerroom and ability to rack up technical fouls. Backing him up is Steven Adams. Adams is a decent prospect, but he has a couple of years to go before he's a consistent threat offensively and defensively. Thus, if the Thunder could get some kind of cheap stopgap at that position to replace Perk and help develop Adams, that would be ideal.
At shooting guard, the team officially lists Thabo Sefolosha and Jeremy Lamb. To be honest, the position is really all-encompassing, with Reggie Jackson, Russell Westbrook, Derek Fisher, and even Andre Roberson also seeing time at the position. But the Thunder could legitimately use another scoring wing. Sefolosha has improved well over the last few years, but he's still prone to bad slumps from three and can't do much to create his own shot. Andre Roberson is seemingly being groomed as his replacement when his contract runs out at the end of the year, but it's hard to say whether his offensive game will develop enough to justify his inclusion in the lineup. Lamb is a promising prospect on the bench, but with pay day potentially becoming a factor down the line, it's not hard to see the Thunder making a move for a legitimate scoring wing that can help out the team now.
If seller, what are the objectives in potential moves?
Becoming financially viable. The Thunder are about as small market as you can get, so it's extremely doubtful that they'll go over the hard cap very far or for very long. Thus, it's almost inevitable that a cap-saving move is going to come at one time or another. If it's possible, the Thunder are definitely looking to continue re-filling their pipeline of players as well.
...at which position do you have a surplus? ...what players are available?
Right now it's not a question of what position is overloaded, but rather who the Thunder are willing to move. As mentioned above, Sefolosha is set to leave at the end of the year, so he might be dished for spare parts. Perry Jones III is looking like the odd man out in the current rotation, so if another team had interest I could see him leaving. Of course, Perkins is probably available to any team that wants him. Other than those three, it's really hard to see anyone on this roster moving for something that's not a superior player.
What are your specific trade ideas?/...what specific players should your team target?
Since there's so many players out there, I'm just gonna scroll through rosters and throw out some names/ideas.
The fan in me really wants the Thunder to hit up the Celtics and try to get Jeff Green back, just because I'm really intrigued to see how he would slot into a lineup with Ibaka, Durant, Jackson and Westbrook.
Charlotte looks like they want to deal Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to win now. He's obviously be a better option than Sefolosha or Roberson, but it's hard to envision the Thunder having anything that interest the Bobcats.
If the Bulls are breaking up the ship, why not make a play for Taj Gibson? He would slot excellently into our big man rotation, and provide scoring at a position where the Thunder have never had it before.
Milwaukee has a bunch of overpriced players and no real reason to win, so maybe we could dump Perk off on them with a couple of assets for someone like O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia, or Ersan Ilyasova? All would be a serious offensive upgrade.
The Magic have Al Harrington on a bad contract, and I wouldn't mind the Thunder looking at him for Perk. Or if there was a way to package Lamb and Sefolosha, maybe we could get a huge upgrade in Afflalo?
I'm not sure what direction the Kings are going in right now, but if there was a way to get Carl Landry, I'd be pretty stoked. He would do wonders for the Thunder on the boards, and is a really reliable pair of hands near the rim.
What moves can you see the Thunder making during this season? What moves do you WANT the Thunder to make? Let us know in the comments!