Right now, the NBA is abuzz with Free Agent News, and I'm certain this post will become outdated in a matter of hours. But just for now, I'll take the time to assess the Thunder's current situation.
If you don't know who's signed where, be sure to check with Peachtree Hoops' Free Agency Board, which, as Seth Pollack described, is "A True Work of Art".
The biggest news for the Thunder so far is easily the departure of Tyson Chandler from the Mavericks. He's left to the Eastern Conference, meaning the Mavericks don't have anybody to hold down the paint or dominate on the boards like Chandler did. The Mavericks have also lost Caron Butler to the Clippers, who wasn't present for the playoffs, but was a significant contributor to two regular season wins against the Thunder, scoring 15 and 21 points during those contests. Lastly, the Mavericks are likely to lose Jose Juan Barea, who was an excellent scorer in key stretches against the Thunder during the Western Conference Finals.
How much does this affect the Mavericks? Well, assumning they re-sign DeShawn Stevenson, their starting lineup still looks quite menacing, with Haywood likely replacing Chandler. But their bench will be a problem. They still have Jason Terry, but they'll have to rely quite a bit on Rodrigue Beaubois, and their big men core is looking thin, with Alexis Ajinca and Ian Mahimni set to get minutes.
Below: Why the Mavericks Are Still Good, Shane Battier, Nate Robinson!
But the Mavericks still have the matchup advantage that mattered the most against the Thunder, and his name is Drik Nowitzki. Sure, the Mavs won't have great defense in the paint or be as good at driving the lane, but the Thunder aren't going to have a great post scorer any time soon, and Barea was only a minor pain. When it's all said and done, the Mavericks will still be a large thorn in our side.
A bigger concern might be Caron Butler's departure to Los Angeles. The Clippers (yes, the Clippers) now have two excellent swingman scoring threats in Caron Butler and Eric Gordon, and they will be backed up by Randy Foye on the bench. Oh, and of course, they have Blake Griffin. It's not enough to a Championship charge, but it's certainly enough to make them relevant.
The only other signing of note for the Thunder is Shane Battier, who has departed the Grizzlies for the Heat. It's not really a huge hit to the Grizzlies, but it is notable because some people were talking about signing this guy to the Thunder. Given how strict Scott Brooks is about his lineups, I don't think he would have gotten much time, nor could the Thunder afford the money to sign a guy to a multi-year contract.
Meanwhile, Nate Robinson will not report to training camp, and will probably soon be brought out/amnestied/traded. I know a lot of you are hoping for a big move to come out of this, but I'm seriously doubting it. Nate's stock has dropped through his time sitting on the Thunder's bench, and I doubt somebody would want to have him signed to as much money as he's making now.
The more likely solution is that he gets dropped, and the Thunder keep the 15th spot open for a D-League player. And, if not that, I'd expect some minor "veteran" signing like Sam Presti has done in the past. Think along the lines of Kevin Ollie and Etan Thomas, not a guy like Shane Battier. Yeah, it's the boring answer to give, but it's the most realistic one, too.
Then again, Nate Robinson hasn't been waived yet, so who knows? There might be a deal in the works.
Do you hope the Thunder have a deal in the works over the next couple of days? Post a comment!