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WTLC: Oklahoma City Thunder trade-deadline roundtable musings

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The collective analytical minds at WTLC assign each Thunder player a highly-debatable trade ranking.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For NBA lovers, the anticipation brought on by the February trade deadline is only eclipsed by the wide open feeding frenzy of the summer free agency period. It’s like a birthday. It’s not quite Christmas, but it will do.

With the departure of #35 last summer, this season’s trade deadline is the most anticipated since the inception of the Oklahoma City era, and has been a hot-topic of discussion since before training camp. Even Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett weighed in with a question about the Thunder’s future line-up during the press conference announcing Russell Westbrook’s contract extension on August 4:

Q. Sam, I got a text from the mayor asking me a question. Is the roster set for opening day or are there more moves to come?

Presti- What I say is we're always looking to try to improve the team. That's been the case. The people that I work with, they're 365 days a year trying to find a way to make us an inch better. That has never changed, will never change.

I think we'll take a hard look at what the team looks like during the season. To Russ' point, I'm really excited about the year because I think we're going to continue to learn about our team. I have the utmost confidence in Russell's leadership ability, but he's gotten better every single season, and I think we're going to see continued growth and dimensions to his game. I think there's even more room for him to grow. You're going to see even a better player over time.

I've got equally as much confidence in Billy and the coaching staff to look for ways to evolve the way we prepare and approach the game. They've been as hard at work as anybody.

From a roster standpoint, my conversations with Russell, one thing I think you look at the team, there's a certain element of toughness. I think there's a certain edge to the team. We're probably not going to do it like everybody else. We never have. I think that's one of the reasons why we've really owned our own success, is because we haven't necessarily modeled ourselves after anybody or followed a certain playbook because that's the way everybody else has done it.

One of the things I see with the team being led by Russell is there's a competitiveness and I would say, like, a ferocity and physicality to us. We'll continue to look for ways to keep adding to the talent level.

Well, as is the norm in a Presti press conference…. that was about as clear as mud. The primary points:

  • Always looking to improve
  • will take a hard look at the team during the season
  • there is an air of toughness about the team
  • not going to do it like anyone else
  • and ‘we’ll continue to look for ways to keep adding to the talent level”.

Any clearer? No? There’s a good reason. Look up “ambiguous” and along with the definition you will find a picture of Sam Presti. The man will never back himself into a corner.

Definition of ambiguous

  • 1a : doubtful or uncertain especially from obscurity or indistinctness <eyes of an ambiguous color>b : inexplicable

2: capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways <an ambiguous smile> <an ambiguous term> <a deliberately ambiguous reply>

New Zealand Basketball Academy Launch Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Told you.

Last season, when the masses were clamoring for Sam to do something big at the deadline, Presti gave them Randy Foye? That’s like hoping for a bicycle and getting a pair of socks. But in the end, it worked. The Thunder didn’t need a bike, they needed those socks and the move almost… no….the move should have been enough to win a championship.

Sing it to ‘em Mick:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you’ll get what you need.” (I’ve waited 40 years to put that song to good use)

So rather than flail away between wants and desires, wide-eyed speculation and the plethora of possible options available to fill them, Welcome to Loud City has decided to trust the Presti “try real hard to get what we need” philosophy.

Before one can understand what one needs, one must first discern what one has. So we made a list and assigned each player a score in hopes of finding a more tangible number to evaluate each Thunder player’s worth:

10. The Untouchables (players only trade-able if the NBA announced they were closing shop on March 1.)

R.K. Anthony -

Russell Westbrook: If the the Thunder were compared to a computer, Russ is the operating system. Taking him away would steal the heart and soul of the team.

Steven Adams: You simply don’t let go of arguably the best defensive big in the NBA with an offensive game that will soon match his defensive game.

Nick Collison: Because he has earned it.

Rustybrooks -

Russell Westbrook: Because he’s the MVP

Bobby-

Russell Westbrook: I suppose for the perfect deal I could be convinced Russ should be traded. But a top 5 player who committed to staying OKC, even if only for an extra year, isn’t something to be lost lightly.

Nick Collison: I believe the state of Oklahoma officially made Nick the patron saint of this state. If they haven’t, they should.

Joshua Broom-

Russell Westbrook: Pursuant to his franchise saving off-season negotiation, and current performance for the ages, it would take a cataclysmic event for Westbrook to be dealt.

Sherman -

Russell Westbrook: The rule of thumb is, never trade a top 5 player without getting one in return. Of the rest of the super-duper stars out there that might be available, perhaps only Anthony Davis represents a viable return of talent, because all the others - LeBron, Durant, Kawhi - would not be available.

Steven Adams: You don’t give a man $100 million if he’s not part of your long term building plans.

Mark Bruty -

Russell Westbrook: Make no mistake, this is now the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook is Batman - the hero that OKC needed after that other guy left. He recommitted, is hell bent on giving you everything he has and you would not want to have to play against this guy. He does it all and commands the respect of his peers, you start a franchise with guys like Westbrook. He stays.

Steven Adams: Funaki is still coming of age, but he has fast-tracked his projections through work ethic and a high basketball IQ. Two way centres with zero ego who still have a huge ceiling don't come along often so you don't part ways with him. Engaging on and off the court too, he gives your franchise a friendly yet fierce face.

Nick Collison: why else other than the fact he is St Nick. The ever classy veteran has been a cornerstone of this franchise and deserves to leave OKC on his own terms - finishing out his contract, with no fanfare, with his jersey retired and perhaps one last charge taken.

9.5. (Special rating. “Seniority has its privileges” J.A. Sherman)

Sherman -

Nick Collison: Actually, ungradable because he has no value to any team other than the Thunder.

9. The Elites (not league elites, but players on the Thunder roster available only if a team’s GM had a meltdown and put a LBJ on the block)

R.K. Anthony -

Victor Oladipo: True 3 and D guys are as rare as hen’s teeth in this league and it took Presti 4 years to find a promising up and comer.

Andre Roberson: Yeh, I think Robes is this valuable. He is doing things on defense that defy imagination and still getting better.

Enes Kanter: Enes is reaching Donovan’s third level of commitment and I believe once completely there, his passion for the team will overcome his phobia of collisions and he will rival the best two-way centers in the league.

Rustybrooks -

Enes Kanter: As Russ put it, why is he not the Sixth Man of the Year every year? His PER is always off the charts and he clearly has a knack for playing next to Russ as well as rebounding his airballs. Only for Milsap would I let this guy go.

Andre Roberson: Any title contender would love to have him, but his chemistry alongside Russ on the defensive end is something dependent on continuity and will only get stronger.

Steven Adams: Again, if there is a B-list all star around who can reliably command the slightest of double teams or excel at a skill deficient in Russ - rim protection, threes, etc. then Adams and Kanter make each other expendable for the sake of that wing/big.

Bobby-

Steven Adams: I know this probably will tread on some toes, but despite Adams being a fantastic player, it’s hard to elevate him to untouchable for me. To me, that status belongs to top 10 players and St. Nick.

Andre Roberson: Here’s the thing: defensive wings never get equal value in trades/contracts to what they provide on the court. And there are maybe 3 (maybe) perimeter defenders I would take over him.

Joshua-

Steven Adams: Generally, superstar performers such as Westbrook are the only which garner true “untouchable” status. However, with a burgeoning offensive game, and newly-signed $100 Million extension, Adams isn’t likely to change addresses any time soon.

Mark Bruty -

Victor Oladipo: he hasn't quite found his feet yet, but has still been a really solid piece to the OKC puzzle. And he is young and still has plenty to improve on. He's athletic, scores the ball and plays defence. You keep Dipo on the roster because he is something special and makes your team better.

Enes Kanter: Probably the only "tradeable" player with any real value if the Thunder want a "third star" but you don't move a guy like this on without getting something of real quality in return. Sure his defense isn't overly good, but his rebounding and scoring is. And he takes a 6th man role without fuss and worry. You don't get this type of touch around the basket and hustle just anywhere.

Sherman -

Oladipo: I think he’s a perfect #2 scoring option for the Thunder. Russ trusts him, sets him up for big shots, and Victor is figuring things out. He may be a bargain in 2 years.

Kanter: much is made about Enes’ shortcomings, and oh boy are they there. That said, he’s a good culture guy, has 2 elite skills (true post play, ORBs), and is getting even better. He may not be completely un-tradable, but there are certainly plenty of other players who I WOULDN’T swap Kanter for.

8. The Futures (youth is the lifeblood of small market teams)

R.K. Anthony -

Domantas Sabonis: Everything points to Domas one day becoming a dominant big in this league. Basketball IQ, genetics, desire, intelligence, coachability, it’s all there. He’s a keeper.

Jerami Grant: He is raw, but any player that has to worry about hitting his head on the rim when he dunks the ball is worth a longer look. May never be all-star caliber, but solid role players are the unsung heroes of every championship team.

Alex Abrines: Beside the shot making ability that almost makes him almost untouchable, the next thing I noticed about Abrines is there is absolutely NOTHING soft about pretty boy’s game.

Rustybrooks -

Domantas Sabonis: Trade him now while his value is still somewhat appreciable - there is a dearth of bigs on this team and he is not needed but could be put together in a deal with other assets to fetch a nice piece

Jerami Grant: He is the only reliably young player that can develop into a starter on this team, he should never be traded.

Victor Oladipo: His contract is great but he needs to be traded for more shooting if Russ hopes to win 50 games. There is such a thing as too much youth, and everything we ask of him could be tempered and fulfilled with a Jerami Grant.

Bobby-

Domantas Sabonis: While the young fellow has hit a bit of a rookie wall, he has the most potential of any guys drafted after 2013 in my opinion. And this team needs a starting power forward for the future.

Alex Abrines: Weak spot on the Thunder: shooting. Abrines’ skill is going to be needed, particularly if he is able to improve. If you can get, say, JJ Redick with Abrines being part of the outgoing package, by all means. But trade him at your own risk.

Cameron Payne: I know he hasn’t looked good, but he also hasn’t been able to play for months. And the offense has looked much better with him running it than Semaj (granted, that isn’t saying much).

Joshua-

Andre Roberson: While his outside shot is maligned, Roberson’s defensive prowess is indispensable to this Thunder team. Nightly “Dre” contends with the opposing unit’s top scorer. And more times than not, Roberson hounds and frustrates stars and All-Stars alike. It’s time to give Andre his respect and reward him with All-Defensive honors at the season’s conclusion.

Domantas Sabonis: Though raw, Sabonis has shown glimpses of the tantalizing upside that make him a near-indispensable component for OKC’s future. When the considerable all-around talents of Arvydas’ son fully mesh, he will be a solid NBA starting-unit mainstay.

Victor Oladipo: At just 24 year-of-age, Oladipo’s better days likely are still ahead. Furthermore, ‘Dipo’ is acclimating to his newfound role with a semi-stable franchise. I view Oladipo as a strong work-in-progress due to his combination of strength, athleticism, and two-way capabilities. Although, if an absolute gem of a deal arose, this doesn’t mean he isn’t more expendable than say, Steven Adams.

Alex Abrines:

Mark Bruty -

Andre Roberson: I love his defence and the job he does on some of the games toughest covers is exceptional. I just wish he could hit an open jump shot. When his confidence is high, he can slash and finish, but needs to lift his shooting to avoid being a liability. He could easily fit into the above category if he could regularly hit from downtown (40% will do).

Domantas Sabonis: watched his father play and just wish he had come to the NBA a little earlier in his career. Arvydas was something special and Domantas is showing all the signs of being equally as talented with a varied skill set. Can shoot the basketball and will get better and better as he gets used to the pace of the game. Young with huge upside.

Jerami Grant: athletic and plays both sides of the ball. In a similar vain to Andre Roberson but a little bigger. I actually thought he was brought in as insurance for Robes when a contract extension wasn't reached. Plenty of room to grow and develop, shows promising signs but just needs that consistency in role and performance.

Cameron Payne: hard to really gauge due to having only recently returned from injury, but I think he's special. He showed glimpses in his rookie year and his Summer League was very, very good. However, some worrying tweets and attitudinal lapses have me wondering if he may be the next Reggie Jackson. If he gets it right and accepts his role as Leader of the Second Unit (and can recapture his jumpshot) he has all the tools to be a CJ McCollum type.

Alex Abrines: I've been pleasantly surprised with AA this season. I wasn't sure how his transition to the NBA would fare but he has been admirable on both ends of the floor. Has a lot of heart and can shoot the rock. Isn't a complete liability on the defensive side of the ball either and makes the right play more often than not. Is growing into an NBA player before our eyes.

Sherman -

Sabonis: he’s got a long way to go...a looong way. But unlike a lot of college big men, he’s already got a skill set that fits naturally with other ball-dominant players. He’s got size, strength, pedigree, and a nasty streak. Once he stops hesitating so much, he’ll take off.

Roberson: He’s the current version of Tony Allen - he can change games almost by himself on the defensive end. But he may have played himself out of OKC simply by virtue that he’s so good (on one end of the court).

Abrines: he is the shooter OKC has been looking for well, forever.

7. The Solid Citizens (role players that you don’t give away on the cheap)

R.K.Anthony -

Joffrey Lauvergne: Limitations? Yes, but King Joffery has a keen awareness of space. The ball is seldom stagnant when he is on the floor because of his knack for finding gaps in opposing defenses and making himself available. Refuses to back down from anyone and can spread the floor on any given night.

Bobby-

Anthony Morrow: One of the historically best shooters on a friendly contract. That means you probably won’t get value back compared to what he can provide. While he’s fallen out of the rotation, Morrow is the kind of guy you want as a bench vet.

Victor Oladipo: This is probably too low for one of the guys considered to be a core part of the future here. I just haven’t seen it so far, and I don’t think Dipo has found his fit yet. He has sort of been relegated to spot up shooter and I don’t think that bodes well for his long term fit here.

Joshua -

Jerami Grant: I view Grant as a low-risk, high-reward type prospect. Obviously, his weak-side shot blocking abilities are a boon. At his best, Grant is a versatile and frenetic ‘glue guy.’ Though on most nights, the 22-year-old is a raw amalgam of hardwood features. Grant may or may not have a solid future in OKC. However, he is worth another year of evaluation.

Mark Bruty -

Joffrey Lauvergne: the Big Croissant has been solid. Can shoot the basketball, doesn't take plays off and plays the team role. Similar skillset to Kanter and thus playing him is a little difficult while also trying to find minutes for Adams, Kanter and Sabonis.

Anthony Morrow: an energetic sniper who just can't find minutes or a clear spot in the rotation. Is always ready though and gives you everything. Can space the floor and is relatively cheap so a range of teams might be interested in prying him away from OKC.

Sherman -

Lauvergne: a classic Presti value move. He bought low, and he’s eventually going to sell high on Joffrey. Which doesn’t mean that he’s on the trading block, only that he will be part of the deal that gets OKC what it is really looking for.

6. The Legal Limits (anything from this point on is fair game)

R.K. Anthony -

Cameron Payne: Sorry to all the Payne lovers out there, but Cam has yet to live up to my expectations of a lottery pick. Other than some added beef, I really don’t see much improvement since last season. Granted he spent the first 37 games on the DL and I’m basing my comment on a small sample size, but the fact remains that when drafted he was touted as a natural PnR point guard and in his 71 NBA games I have seen more running around the perimeter like a lost puppy and dwindling shot clocks than I have seen solid point guard play. He is not the heir to Russell’s throne.

Bobby-

Jerami Grant: Grant is a low risk kind of player. He could develop to be a useful small-ball 4, but right now, he has a lot of developing to do. Also, he shouldn’t be a perimeter defender, at least as he currently stands.

Enes Kanter: Perhaps I’m too low with Kanter as well. The problem Enes has is that he is on an excessive contract given that he is one of the worst defensive bigs in the game. His offense is fantastic, but you could sell me on trading him pretty easily.

Joshua -

Nick Collison: While I fondly recollect upon “Mr. Thunder’s” unforgettable franchise contributions, I’d say Collison is expendable only as a throw in to a mega-deal that has almost zero chance of materializing.

Mark Bruty -

Semaj Christon: made the roster through sheer will, determination and grit. The Thunder even took on the $5mil from Price to keep "backwards James". Is a fighter and a solid third string point guard who could keep developing but will fall behind Payne in the rotation at OKC.

Sherman -

Cam Payne: I want to like Payne. I really do. But everything he was supposed to be - a true PnR point man - has yet to manifest even a little bit. He looks unprepared out there, not understanding spacing, passing angles, and who he needs to set up. I know there is talent in there, but those attributes make him my first big bargaining chip in a trade.

Grant: I love what he has brought to the club, and he’s a perfect fit for the style that OKC wants to play. He’s even a great shotblocker while wearing #9. But when his rookie contract runs out, it is going to be hard to justify any significant salary bump at this point.

5. The Salts of the Earth

R.K. Anthony

Semaj Christon: I know Semaj hasn’t really lit anyone’s fire, but unlike Payne, Christon is a rookie that has battled his guts out to get where he is. Semaj is the type of teammate you don’t have to go looking for when there is trouble because he will already be by your side. He’s earned my respect, and more importantly, he’s earned Donovan’s as well. If not for Payne’s possible higher ceiling, I would have put Semaj one notch above Cameron. There is some serious fight in this dog.

Joshua -

Cameron Payne: Since returning from injury, Payne has done little to justify Christon’s D-League assignment. Like many, I was clamoring for a second-unit infusion from the 6’3 guard. His second-quarter outburst vs. Denver stoked that hope; albeit ever so briefly. As things now stand, Cam Payne is running short on opportunities to prove he belongs with the team’s regular rotation.

Sherman -

Morrow: he runs too hot or cold, and in part it is because he isn’t as mobile as Abrines, so he needs to offense to set him up for the right kinds of shots. I was hoping for more, but it seems like Morrow has found his ceiling in OKC despite being a great teammate and pro.

4. The Expendables

R.K. Anthony

Anthony Morrow: this one kills me, but it is obvious that Morrow does not fit into Donovan’s plan. However, even though he has value, if I were Presti, I would proceed with caution. Trade Morrow to a Western Conference playoff contender and it could be a trade that could sink a season.

Joshua -

Enes Kanter: I love Kanter’s offensive wares and social sensibilities. His positive qualities both on and off the court moderately outweigh his now upgraded ‘inconsistent’ defensive efforts. Although, with that stated, Kanter is the only viable bench piece which can warant a decent trade-deadline return. As a quality secondary-performer, Kanter is expendable in the most positive sense.

Anthony Morrow: Morrow is perfect throw-in fodder for a surprise deadline deal.

Joffrey Lauvergne: See Morrow.

Joffrey Lauvergne: Joffrey, in my opinion, should be out of the rotation. He has some offensive skill, but he simply doesn’t fit next to Kanter at all, and he is significantly less skilled on offense (and not significantly better on defense), so if you can get value back, do so.

3. The Wayward Sons (the Reggie Jackson-holes)

R.K. Anthony -

I doubt any player on the current roster fits here. I just created it because I don’t like Reggie… never did.

2. Trade Bait

R.K. Anthony -

Josh Huestis: Smart kid, hard worker, but a long long way from making any NBA team’s regular rotation.

Joshua -

Semaj Christon: Yes, Semaj has worked diligently to gain a roster spot, but Payne’s front-office value is greater. Christon’s recent Development League stint is proof positive that his standing with OKC is perhaps of a transitory nature.

Josh Huestis: Huestis’ eleven total minutes of playing time since being drafted by OKC in 2014 perfectly sums up his expendability.

Sherman -

Christon: Still has the potential to grow into a viable backup PG, but expendable at this point.

1. The Water Boys (if it breathes, take a shot)

R.K. Anthony -

Kyle Singler: Surprise, surprise, R.K. doesn’t like Kyle Singler. It’s nothing personal, he just doesn’t fit the pace the Thunder play at. Never has, never will. Stop hoping the solid shooter from Detroit will ever show up. That Piston team Singler came from ranked 24th in the league in possessions per game. The Thunder haven’t finished lower than 10th since making the playoffs the first time in 2009-10. Teams like Utah, Dallas, and San Antonio are more his speed. Maybe Presti can sell one of those slowpokes on Kyle’s Detroit numbers. I doubt it, but one can always hope.

Rustybrooks -

Nick Collison: His glory days during 2012 are long gone but he can still contribute as a veteran presence and should not be traded unless picks are involved.

Alex Abrines: His talent is solid but if we can replace him with a younger, more talented player with a higher upside, it would be all the more profitable in 2020.

Cameron Payne: While you could argue he is a top 4 player on this team, he will never get the chance to show it unless he can play off the ball, but his talent should fetch plenty.

Joffery Lauvrgne: Have not seen a single winning moment from this guy for as long as he’s been on the team, needs to go.

Anthony Morrow: His defense is always in too much question to make him a part of the crunchtime lineup, as good as his shooting can get.

Semaj Christon: Not enough room for him to make an impact.

Josh Huestis: No spot.

Kyle Singler: It’s Singler

Bobby-

Josh Huestis: This tier is the “guys I love to root for but do so pessimistically” group. Huestis has actually been shooting really well from 3 for the blue of late, but I don’t think he has a future here at all. Perhaps there is a bad team out there who could grab him, keep him for cheap while tanking, and he becomes a decent vet in 5 or 6 years?

Kyle Singler: I almost feel sorry for Singler. He was good once. Something happened, and I bet it’s frustrating. It might be best for everyone if he finds a new team.

Semaj Christon: Semaj could easily develop into a solid 3rd PG in a few years. Perhaps, with the right development, even a solid bench PG. But he isn’t going to get the minutes he needs for that here, and I’m not sure Russ is the right guy for him to learn from. His game probably needs a more structured mentor than Russ.

Joshua -

Kyle Singler: Unfortunately, Singler left his jumpshot, and potential, in Detroit. Whereas Kyle once seemed on track to carve out a solid NBA career, his status has declined to that of overpaid roster millstone. I envision Kyle finishing up his playing days overseas in the not too distant future.

Sherman -

Singler: an obvious choice, he’s never going to mesh well either with Russ running his high octane offense or Payne doing whatever it is that he does. Singler seems destined to become a poor man’s Mike Dunleavy - it will always seem like he’s better than he is.

Huestis: He doesn’t have it. He looks like an NBA player, moves like one, jumps like one, even works like one, but he seems to be missing an inherent quality that keeps him actually in the moment of games.

Mark Bruty -

Josh Huestis: did the team thing and went to the D-League on minimal dollars to be given a chance. Probably not up to scratch though and the Thunder would take anything in return.

Kyle Singler: just has not been able to find his feet (or shot) here in OKC. The Thunder thought they could get the Pistons version of Singler - but it's been sputtering and misfiring since the get-go. If they can find someone to take him, they'd likely throw in a bottle of champagne with a thank you card.

The Totals

  1. Russell Westbrook - 60
  2. Steven Adams - 57
  3. Victor Oladipo - 50
  4. Andre Roberson - 50
  5. Enes Kanter - 48
  6. Domas Sabonis - 48
  7. Nick Collison - 46.5
  8. Jerami Grant - 43
  9. Alex Abrines - 41
  10. Cameron Payne - 34
  11. Joffrey Lauvergne - 29
  12. Anthony Morrow - 28
  13. Semaj Christon - 17
  14. Josh Huestis - 8
  15. Kyle Singler - 6

These totals by no means constitute a definitive list of what players stay and which players go. They are merely the first step in a very long process that Presti and his staff will go through between now and February 23rd. Raw numbers that only represent how relevant each player has been to this groupings strengths.

Strengths such as rebounding. The Thunder rank 3rd in the NBA in total rebounds at 54.9 per game. The team ranks high on the boards on both ends of the floor, 7th in offensive rebounds and 7th in defensive rebounds and the Thunder are a top 10 scoring team at 106.5 points per game.

The Thunder rank a respectable 11th in shooting, but are one dimensional. Fourth in 2 point shooting at 51.5, but an abysmal 29th beyond the arc at 32.6.

The team sits in the middle of the rankings for opponent shooting percentage at 45.4. Oddly enough, considering the size of this team, it is a bit surprising to learn that it is opponents 2-point shooting, 49.6% and 17th ranked, that is holding back the team’s 9th spot at 35.1% from beyond the arc and not the other way around.

Focusing on these 3 areas alone gives one an idea of how complicated making trade decisions is because they all point to a very controversial player in the Thunder line-up, Enes Kanter.

The last two games have left NO doubt how soft the Thunder’s defense becomes when Kanter is in charge of guarding the paint. With Steven Adams in the line-up, the Sacramento Kings scored 46 points in the first half, but after Adams went down with a concussion less than 2 minutes into the second half, the Kings put up 72 points.

The following night, in a game completely void of the Funaki’s defensive presence the Los Angeles Clippers, minus Blake Griffin, outscored the Thunder 62 to 34 in the paint!

So much for the argument that Kanter should start in front of Adams, but the question of trading or retaining him isn’t quite so cut and dry. His presence clearly explains the Thunder’s struggles against 2 point shooting, but it plays a huge role in the Thunder’s rebounding and an even bigger role in their 2 point shooting.

Sure the Thunder could send Kanter packing and replace him with a traditional defensive big, but how would they make up the 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds Enes contributes to the bench in only 21.5 minutes? Numbers that have ballooned to 20.2 and 9.8 in the last 5 games.

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, the Kanter question is an example of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He is a great teammate and Westbrook loves him. He is an offensive juggernaut but in the first quarter against the Clippers he literally stepped out of the way of Clipper guard Alan Anderson and gave up a lay-up to avoid contact:

How can a defense unit be even remotely effective when their anchor can’t hold his mud? THEY CAN’T. Kanter is trying, but he is fighting a phobia of collision he can’t seem to conquer. What’s a GM to do?

Further, is Kanter’s defensive deficiencies even the biggest issue this team needs to address? Probably, but could there be two smaller issues that could almost negate the Kanter problem if resolved that come with less risk, or less cost?

That is what Presti was alluding to in the August 4th presser when he said, “The people that I work with, they're 365 days a year trying to find a way to make us an inch better. That has never changed, will never change.”

Simply put, there is no magic pill, no easy fix and why this armchair trade deadline enthusiast is going to leave it to the experts to figure out. I’m exhausted.