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NBA Loud Links: Surprise trades, Oklahoma City Thunder news and Westbrook’s future

Examining Tuesday’s trades while looking at OKC’s latest news

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

As Draft night approaches, abrupt trades involving recognizable names recently stirred the NBA landscape.

The most notable transaction saw the Los Angeles Lakers clear roster-space for purported #2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, while availing its payroll for future off-season upgrades, by sending D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and the #27 pick in Thursday’s draft.

Many Lakers supporters decried this move, as Russell, 21, ranks among the NBA’s top young guards. Though, with Paul George explicitly stating he will not re-sign with Indiana following next season, LAL President of Operations Magic Johnson has clearly set a stage to pursue George, and perhaps LeBron James, in summer 2018.

Meanwhile, ahead of a contract year, Brooklyn sheds Lopez’ remaining $22 M salary while absorbing Mozgov’s leftover near $16 M annual pay through 2020.

Tuesday’s other headline saw Dwight Howard and the upcoming #31 draft position shipped from the Atlanta Hawks to Charlotte for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and Thursday’s #41 pick.

Signed to a three-year $70.5 M contract by Atlanta last summer, Howard averaged 13.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, and 1.2 BPG during his one-year stay with the Hawks.

This move helps bring Charlotte closer to post-season contention. Meanwhile, following an impressive ten-year run of playoff appearances, Atlanta now embraces a full-rebuild.

With these notable deals highlighted, here is a look at relevant Oklahoma City Thunder news ahead of the off-season’s busiest hub.

Should Oklahoma City gamble on intriguing physical wonder Semi Ojeleye?

WTLC examines Ojeleye’s upside and also considers a free-agent backup option for Russell Westbrook.

How the “Super-team era” might affect Russell Westbrook’s upcoming contract decision.

Jenni Carlson of NewsOK considers how past and present “superteams” may influence Westbrook’s next professional steps.

Is Presti interested in OKC native Blake Griffin?

If so, given the Thunder’s cap situation, does this interest make sense?