Mere days after the NBA draft and less than a week before the start of 2019 free agency, trade speculation surrounding Thunder center Steven Adams is picking up.
Already the subject of trade rumors leading into the draft, Adams is now linked to teams on both sides of the country.
According to Matt George of the Locked On Kings podcast and Sports 1140 KHTK, the Thunder have discussed a deal with the Sacramento Kings and the asking price “was too high”. George reports that OKC may have wanted a package of players that included second-year wing Bogdan Bogdanovic.
I've been told by a couple of different sources now that OKC's asking price was too high for Adams. Speculation is that they wanted a package headlined by Bogi, who the Kings aren't interested in moving in that deal. https://t.co/qz0EVu2xJZ— Matt George (@MattGeorgeKHTK) June 23, 2019
Meanwhile, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports that Adams “is on Boston’s radar” as they embark on an offseason overhaul.
Both situations are interesting landing sports for the Thunder big man. Both teams can open up significant cap room starting July 1, providing a path for OKC to both shake up the roster and reduce salary obligations.
The Kings could fall as much as $50 to $60 million under the salary cap, which is expected to land at near $109 million. Sacramento’s starting center last season, Willie Cauley-Stein, reportedly wants out and is seeking a “fresh start”. That would open up an immediate need for a player of Adams’ caliber.
With that much cap space, the Kings could absorb Adams’ $25.8 million salary for 2019-20 without having to send out any salaried players in return. While that would save OKC a substantial amount of money, the team may not be in the mood for a straight salary dump. Hence the rumor of a package highlighted by Bogdanovic, on the books for $8.5 million in the last year of his deal.
Another interesting Kings player is 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica, a 6’10” stretch forward who has hit over 40 percent from deep the past two seasons. Bjelica is owed $6.8 million next season and has a non-guaranteed salary for the 2020-21 season.
The Celtics, meanwhile, have seemingly pivoted towards clearing cap room in the wake of expected departures of All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and center Al Horford. As with Sacramento, Boston could clear enough room to take on Adams’ deal without a need to send salary to OKC. The Thunder may want more than just future draft considerations in return.
Some will immediately connect with former Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart, recently named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team. Smart’s salary is about half of Adams’ next season and he’s under contract for three more years. Smart hit a career-high 36.4% of his three-point shots last season.
Another possibility is third-year forward Jaylen Brown, who shuffed in and out of the Celtics’ starting five last season. Brown is part of Boston’s young core and is only 22 years old. Brown averaged 13 points per game and shot 34.4 percent from three on 3.7 attempts per game.
If such a hypothetical deal ever unfolds, it could provide OKC the perimeter talent it needs while also slashing its tax bill to shreds. Parting with the Kiwi fan favorite would be a tough pill for many Thunder fans to swallow, but he could be the trade chip most likely to modernize the team.