Update 2 (Zorgon): Jon Hamm provides analysis for Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman. If you don't understand the benefit of this deal be sure to check it out, as it lays things in a very digestible fashion. He also claims that the Thunder will either use the slot for nothing or for acquiring a potential rotation player, but probably aren't looking to do anything too enormous.
Update (Sherman): The Thunder have announced the following:
The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired a pair of conditional 2nd round draft picks from the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team deal, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Included in the trade, the Thunder sent forward Ryan Gomes to the Boston Celtics and cash considerations to the Grizzlies.
Oklahoma City acquired the 2014 Philadelphia 76ers’ 2nd round pick (conditional), which was owned by the Grizzlies. Additionally, the Thunder acquired the Grizzlies’ 2017 2nd round draft selection (conditional).
Via Marc Stein:
To recap: Celts get Bayless and Gomes and likely waive Gomes. Grizz get Courtney Lee. Some second-rounders likely involved to tie it all up— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 7, 2014
It looks like the Thunder have recently emerged as the third team in the Courtney Lee-Jerryd Bayless trade between the Grizzlies and the Celtics. Their involvement isn't major, but it definitely gives us several hints about Presti's next move.
My impression is that the Thunder basically piggybacked on this deal in order to get some much-needed caproom. It's extremely likely that they sent a second rounder and/or some cash considerations to the Celtics in order to pay them back, but the loss taken is minimal.
The original deal was designed to answer some issues for both the Celtics and Grizzlies. The Celtics answer a logjam issue that they've had at the swingman position, and get a stop gap point guard to fill in minutes while Rondo is gone. It's also somewhat of a tanking move that provides them with cap room moving forward. The Grizzlies significantly improve their bench moving forward, but force the inexperienced Nick Calathes into action.
What Does it Mean?
On the Thunder's side of things, it definitely indicates that they're AT LEAST considering another move. Giving up assets to move a veteran minimum contract is overkill unless you've got a specific plan in mind or are looking to clear space at all costs. My perception is that Presti has a few plans in mind for this cap room, though we might not see the blueprint for a few weeks.
One thing's for sure: The Thunder will not go into the Luxury Tax. Currently, they only have enough space to sign a single player on a partial-season contract, but this deal gives the Thunder $2,313,466 in cap room, which is enough for about three partial season contracts or an average role player.
What type of player are the Thunder looking to acquire? Some speculate that the Thunder are after Andre Miller, who has recently clashed with the Denver coaching staff after logging his first career DNP-CD. Miller has always been a respected player and certainly could find time in Oklahoma City's rotation, especially considering Westbrook's absence. But the Thunder have never signed players considered to cause trouble, and it's almost impossible to see him sharing time with Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson once Westbrook returns. Basically, if the Thunder were to somehow acquire Miller, Fisher would definitely retire or look elsewhere for playing time. Fisher has always expressed zero interest in coaching, and has never played for a team that doesn't let him play on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, the team pretty clearly needs help at point guard right now. The Thunder's two primary ball handlers are Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant. Derek Fisher has emerged as a third option over the past three games, but his offensive system is extremely limited. About 80% of his plays are HORNS, which is a joke because he's no threat to use a screen and score. If the last sentence made no sense to you, just know that the Thunder's playbook was built around young and athletic guards, not old three point bombers. On top of that, Derek Fisher has never been a true point guard, usually playing on teams with ball-dominant off-guards during his career. He's yet to crash and burn during a game, but Brooks has pretty clearly done all he can to keep the all bench Fisher lineup out of dangerous situations.
Meanwhile, Durant has had to shoulder a lot of the load in big games. He already is the team's primary scorer, logs heavy minutes, and has to defend some of the league's prime players. Making a 6'10" guy bring the ball up the court half of the time doesn't do wonders for his stamina, and telegraphs what the Thunder's intentions are. I'm not saying that the Thunder will massively suffer if they don't get another ballhandling option, but you're liable to see some more offensive collapses when KD gets tired, Fisher's lineup falters, or Reggie Jackson tries to force the issue too much. Thus, it only seems obvious that the team would try to acquire a legitimate third PG through a trade.
Another possibility is that the Thunder are shopping Thabo Sefolosha. He's been his usual self this season, even making a few small strides offensively. But it's becoming increasingly clear that, even with this move, the Thunder won't be able to afford his contract next season. So it might make sense to try and grab value for him now.
A third and more far-fetched possibility is that the Thunder are looking to sign somebody from Europe. 2nd rounder Alex Abrines is doing decent work as a scoring guard on Europe's top level, but it's still widely accepted that he needs more time before coming to the states, and will need a buyout from his current team. Tibor Pleiss, another former Thunder draft pick, is having the greatest season of his career on the top level, but would command a hefty buyout from Caja Laboral.
Lastly, the Thunder's D-League Affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, recently acquired point guard Reggie Williams, and he's been a huge boon to the struggling team. In 4 games, he's averaging 20.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 3.0 SPG, and 44% from the field. Williams has seen an NBA level of success in the past with the Warriors, but saw his stock slowly fade over time. He definitely has the tools to really help the Thunder's ball movement by providing an excellent scoring guard to run HORNS with, but it remains to be seen if his solid play can be sustained.
Ode to Ryan Gomes
Gomes career as a Thunder player was short and forgettable, and he never did much to garner fan support. It's not a negative reflection on him as a person, but his off-season signing will forever be symbolic of the Thunder's refusal to go over the luxury tax and take a chance on a free agent like Dorell Wright. Gomes was basically the Thunder's emergency button should Adams and Jones not have panned out. He would have been a serviceable option as a stretch power forward, and enabled the Thunder to run a small lineup without giving up too much down low. His range would have also given the Thunder a floor spacer, which they need.
In terms of what he actually did on the court, Gomes most notable stretch came earlier in the year, when the Thunder went on a West Coast road trip to see the Clippers and Warriors. Kendrick Perkins was in Texas attending his grandfather's funeral, leaving the team shorthanded in the front court. During the Clippers game, Serge Ibaka was ejected, Nick Collison got into severe foul trouble, and Hasheem Thabeet was busy laying an egg. Thus, Gomes number was called in the third quarter of that important game, and he proceeded to score once, turn the ball over, and foul four times. The Thunder, predictably, ended up losing. Gomes other four games were entirely forgettable. They were all garbage minutes against Minnesota, Houston, New Orleans, and Utah.
Summing up, with the development of guys like Adams, Jones, and Roberson, Gomes had become obsolete. He'll go down in history much like Etan Thomas. An insurance policy that we never needed to cash in on. Best of luck, dude!
What do you think about the Ryan Gomes trade? What is the Thunder's next move? Let us know in the comments!