Ever since the Thunder went all-in on the rebuilding process, Sam Presti’s activity in the trade market has been focused on loading up on picks. Oklahoma City has a cupboard of picks that is unparalleled; no other team has made such a point of acquiring picks over anything else.
The Cleveland Cavaliers under Chris Grant prioritised asset acquisition but that strategy was derived out of a need to gut the roster and start again. Grant inadvertently built up the reserves that David Griffin deployed to win a championship in 2016. Presti’s effort has been much more concerted.
That being said, the Thunder are pretty close to finishing off the acquisition stage of their process. Oklahoma City have two young stars in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. The Thunder have a defensive stopper in Luguentz Dort and a bevy of useful role players. There is something for Sam Presti to build on.
At this point in time, I would say that the Thunder are a wing and a long-term solution at center away from having a core that can grow together. Oklahoma City will likely end up picking the center of the future in next year's Draft which leaves the wing spot as a priority for the foreseeable future.
I have thought about this closely and came up with a list of players that are acquirable and fit with the Thunder’s requirements. There will be no weird overly idealistic trades that seem great on paper but are utterly unlikely to even happen.
For that reason, any Ben Simmons discussion was thrown into the bin. I like the best case version of Simmons but that player is not guaranteed. Moreover, I cannot see Sam Presti making a trade for a player who will not be committed to the Thunder’s project.
Cameron Reddish - Atlanta Hawks, 6’8 wing, 1+1 yrs on contract (Team Option)
Cam Reddish was part of the fabled Duke triumvirate that drove fear into many college basketball teams. Nobody quite knew what to do against three excellent perimeter players in the form of RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.
The point worth noting is that Barrett and Williamson have both exploded in terms of stature. Zion and RJ are widely regarded as two future All-Stars. The same cannot be said for Cam. His career has somewhat stalled in Atlanta due to two seasons of inconsistent play.
He has not been helped by the upheaval in Atlanta over the last two years and the intense competition for minutes but he has not excelled as many thought he would. When the Hawks got him and Hunter in the same draft class, it was believed that they had found their wing duo for the long-term.
Nobody ever really accounted for Bogdan Bodganovic coming onto the roster and Kevin Huerter maintaining his place in his rotation. All of this has meant that Reddish has slipped to something like Nate McMillan’s 4th choice at the wing spots.
Despite all of this, Reddish is a solid young wing who competes hard defensively and has a desirable offensive game. Cam has all of the tools to be an excellent 3&D wing, he just needs an environment where he can work on his game without facing such immediate pressure.
The other point worth noting about Cam Reddish is that the Hawks have made him available for trade. Atlanta’s cap sheet will balloon hugely in the coming years and the Hawks will be a tax-paying team. Atlanta will be paying $110m for Young, Gallinari, Bodganovic, Collins and Capela next season. They do not have much manoeuvrability under the luxury cap when it comes to guys like Hunter, Huerter and Reddish.
Reddish is a little too rich for the Hawks’ blood at this moment in time and it was heavily rumoured that they were shopping him for a mid-first round pick in July. The asking price will not be unreasonable for a player who has the potential to satisfy the Thunder’s needs at the 3.
Reddish may never pan out as an NBA player but I feel that he is worth a try if the asking price is simply a first round pick or one of the Thunder’s reserve guards. Atlanta are light in the playmaking department and would probably appreciate a player like Ty Jerome who can soak up minutes while providing steady, efficient production.
Desmond Bane - Memphis Grizzlies, 6’5 wing, 1+2 yrs on contract (Team Option)
This name might seem like clickbait, an unrealistic trade in a realistic trade article but honestly I think Bane is gettable for the Thunder. He has all of the hallmarks of being a great 3&D wing in the league but Memphis are going to be a team that will be expensive going forward.
The Grizzlies are going to have to pay Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Brandon Clarke a lot of money if they have any hope of keeping together an interesting young core. Moreover, the Grizzlies have legitimate designs on progressing as a team. They will also need to add a few steady veterans who can keep the team on an even keel. I would not be surprised to see guys like Kyle Anderson or Steven Adams brought back on mid-sized contracts.
When all of those outgoings are considered, the Grizzlies will be an expensive team to keep together and will still need that flexibility if they plan on adding the sort of talent who can vault the team into championship contention.
The Thunder will have to put together a strong offer for Desmond. It is very difficult to justify trading a player who shoots 43.2% from behind the arc but I do believe that Memphis would do such a transaction if they receive value.
Oklahoma City could offer an excellent veteran forward in Kenrich Williams who can be the connective tissue that allows bench units to flourish. Last season, Williams showed that he has a versatile skill-set. He can create off the dribble, guard three positions and brings an intensity that is difficult to match.
I also believe that the Grizzlies would welcome an upgrade in the reserve guard spots. De’Anthony Melton is a great young player but Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones are more spotty quantities. Jones and Dunn are fine perimeter defenders at the 1 but neither can really relied upon to stretch the floor or run the offense.
Someone like Ty Jerome changes the equation for the Grizzlies. Jerome is a savvy pick and roll operator who makes plays for others and score efficiently from downtown. Jerome shot 42.3% from deep last year on 5.1 3PA.
His efficiency does not quite tell the whole story when it comes to his marksmanship. Jerome nailed pull-up threes (43.4%) and was highly efficient when he was guarding closely by the defense.
Jerome’s gravity as a shooter would create even more room for Ja Morant to detonate inside. Nobody in their right minds would play one pass away while they are guarding somebody who can hit from downtown with startling regularity.
Deni Avdija - Washington Wizards, 6’9 wing, 1 + 2 yrs on contract (Team Option)
I will be completely honest about Deni, he went down like a wet fart in Washington last season. He showed flashes of ability but was often very inconsistent. His rookie season was certainly a shock to the system for a player who usually saw a lot of the ball in his time with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Deni played his first season next to two ball dominant players in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. He rarely had the time to find a rhythm in the game due to the Wizards’ abysmal defense. Washington would frequently fall far behind and the rest of the game would be chasing the deficit down.
Whenever the Wizards landed in those situations, they turned to Westbrook, Beal or Robin Lopez to bail them out. Avdija would go minutes without seeing a touch of the ball which meant that he tried way too hard to be productive when the ball landed in his hands. He did not play his natural game last season and suffered as a player.
When you think of the Wizards’ storming run to make it into the postseason, it was defined by players like Daniel Gafford and Rui Hachimura stepping up. Avdija faded into the background with his confidence in tatters.
I struggle to see how his situation gets any better in Washington. While the Wizards traded away Russell Westbrook, they acquired Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell. Both players need a lot of touches to impact the game in a positive way.
It is evident that the Wizards are win-now, this season is a last gasp attempt to keep Bradley Beal in the DMV. A player like Deni simply does not fit the timeline for Washington. Avdija is a prospect whose talented has to be nurtured over time and the Wizards do not have that time right now.
Avdija’s passing and shot creation would fit nicely with a team like the Thunder who play a selfless style of basketball. The ball moves around in Oklahoma City and the ball dictates who scores the ball. There are no predetermined scoring options outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Avdija showed a ton of promise in Europe and I refuse to believe that promise will remain unrealised in the NBA. Young players can blossom in the right situation with a proper head coach, Deni is no different in that regard. He played an entire season under Coach Scott Brooks for a team hunting a postseason berth at the expense of opportunities for development. He can only go up from here.