(The 2013 NBA trade deadline is February 21st at 3PM ET. WTLC is exploring potential trade ideas that could bolster the Thunder's chances during their playoff run.)
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What the Thunder need:
A home for Eric Maynor.
While it is certainly of good fortune for the Thunder to currently boast a 3rd string PG of Maynor's caliber, the fact is that at his current $2.3mm salary (and a next year qualifying offer of $3.5mm) he is probably too expensive, long term. Not only is Maynor too expensive, but he's too good a floor general to be cooped up at the end of a team's bench. However, as long as Reggie Jackson, the current #2 PG, continues to improve, that's likely where Maynor will stay, due to his more limited upside as well as the salary cap considerations. Under that reality, this rumor by Mark Spears makes total sense:
Thunder has been getting numerous inquiries about guard Eric Maynor, sources tell Y! Sports. OKC inclined to keep Maynor but is open-minded.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 10, 2013
Backup point guard is a big long-term need for the Wizards. A.J. Price will work for one season, but long-term, John Wall needs a player he can count on to help when he's not on the floor. Price certainly hasn't shown to me that he's a viable long-term solution to what will be a needed gap in case Wall gets injured again. Keeping Price just means you're kicking the can down the road.
That brings us to Maynor.
Moving Maynor to DC accomplishes a goal both for the Thunder and for the Wizards. For the Thunder, it lowers their salary cap burden in the future so that they will have greater leverage to re-sign Kevin Martin, a player who is becoming more and more important to OKC's success by the day. Maynor is currently the 3rd PG on the depth chart and I have a strong inclination that the Thunder front office has encouraged Scott Brooks to give Reggie Jackson a bona fide shot at growing into the backup PG role so that he's ready come playoff time. Such matriculation makes Maynor expendable, and therefore a viable trade asset.
For Maynor, going to DC, while not the most popular spot in the world for free agents, would likely allow him a much greater role in the team's direction. John Wall is talented but inconsistent and often injured. He needs a good backup PG to help keep the Wizards' forward progress moving. Also, Maynor went to the local school Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and his homecoming would likely be welcomed by his fan faithful.
The downside is that while the Thunder would be acquiring another 3rd string PG in Price, he is not likely near the quality of Maynor, ACL recovery or not. Maynor has great rapport with his team and I doubt Price would be able to duplicate that at any significant level. Maynor is essentially an insurance policy for the Thunder at this point. It is clear that the Thunder want Jackson to be the #2, but if he ends up having a deer-in-the-headlights moment against a playoff team, the Thunder would be better off with Maynor's calming influence.
Also, aside from the cap relief, the Wiz really don't have much else to offer the Thunder in terms of value. Is it worth parting ways with Maynor simply to make a salary dump? I think that Sam Presti is more clever than that, but it could be that the Thunder front office is so adverse to paying the luxury tax that Presti might have to pull the trigger anyway.
What do you think?