With the trade-deadline looming, Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti again worked his magic.
In a deal to solidify Oklahoma City’s main weaknesses, reserves Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow were traded to the Chicago Bulls for starting power forward Taj Gibson and sharpshooter Doug McDermott —plus a 2018 second-round pick.
Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder Trade Breakdown pic.twitter.com/MO5jedHIB2— Chicago Bulls Rumors (@chicagobullsbot) February 23, 2017
Rampant leaks since early Thursday morning suggested Presti had his eye intently on Gibson (11.6 ppg, 7 rpg, 55 starts). However, McDermott’s inclusion (10.2 ppg, 37.6% 3PM, 24.5 mpg) proved to be a most welcome surprise.
With McDermott in tow, Russell Westbrook now boasts a reliable floor-spacing threat to ease lane congestion for he and bruiser Steven Adams.
Meanwhile, Gibson will infuse OKC with both front-line depth, as Enes Kanter recovers from injury, and add assurance for a struggling Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis, 20, has started each of Oklahoma City’s 57 regular-season contests, but has seen his offensive numbers (6.1 ppg, 40/31/69 split) decline sharply of late.
It is expected that the 31-year-old Gibson will supplant Domas as OKC’s starting power forward.
Another feel-good curveball on this exciting day for Thunder Nation occurred when defensive stalwart Andre Roberson discovered he would not be included in OKC’s trade package.
Rumors swirled regarding Roberson’s status as he was seen embracing team personnel while leaving the Thunder practice facility.
Hugs notwithstanding, pursuant to today’s deal, the revamped Thunder has now twice upgraded its roster via trade since the Draft Night swap that delivered standouts Victor Oladipo and Sabonis into the fold.
And while the Thunder moves forward with enhanced talent, OKC will face another round of chemistry issues as 25 games remain in the regular season. However, Billy Donovan is noted for his innate ability to bring divergent talents together.
As Coach Donovan processes potential lineups, OKC fans may get a first look at their newly constructed Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers visit Chesapeake Energy Arena.