Sitting at 29-13 and in second place in the Western Conference standings, the Oklahoma City Thunder will approach the Feb. 8 trade deadline as buyers for the first time in several years.
While OKC is not expected to make any blockbuster deals, expect it to possibly make minor upgrades to improve its depth heading into its first playoff appearance since 2020.
In today’s NBA, you can never have too many quality wings. Thunder general manager Sam Presti can strengthen the backup wing spot by targeting low-risk veteran players on bad teams.
Brown became a household name during last year’s playoffs when the Denver Nuggets won their first championship. He played an integral part in their run as a key member of their rotation.
The six-year veteran could provide OKC with playoff experience and another good wing defender to pair with Lu Dort and Cason Wallace. The Thunder can count on Brown to be a quality backup wing option as rotations tighten in the playoffs.
The only downside to a potential Brown is he’s on a two-year, $45 million deal with a team option next season. It’s a bit pricey, but it aligns with when OKC will need to start handing out second contracts to its core, so it’s a clean divorce.
Brown also isn’t the greatest outside shooter, being a career 33.8% shooter on 1.8 attempts. This season, he’s averaging 12 points on 47.9% shooting, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
The other wrench in this scenario is he can only be traded by himself with no additional players since he was recently traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Toronto Raptors. This limits the framework of a deal. Dealing with Masai Ujiri also guarantees needing to give up a hefty price.
Nonetheless, OKC has the luxury of a deep draft capital, which means it can overpay for the 27-year-old without leaving a serious mark. Brown can provide experience and depth to the Thunder for two playoff runs.
Thunder receive: Bruce Brown
Raptors receive: Davis Bertans, 2025 top-six protected first-round pick via Sixers, 2027 first-round pick
Considering the Nets’ freefall, expect Brooklyn to be a popular seller with its plethora of veteran wings. Expect O’Neale to get plenty of calls as he fits the bill of a low-risk, bang-for-your-buck type move.
Dorian Finney-Smith will be the main attraction, but O’Neale will get plenty of suitors as a potential pivot move if Finney-Smith is too expensive.
The seven-year veteran has carved out a nice role for him in the NBA, being a backup and starting wing for several playoff teams. O’Neale can provide spacing as a career 38.1% 3-pointer shooter on 3.6 attempts.
The rebounding numbers are also helpful with a 4.8 career average. Considering OKC’s rebounding woes, it needs all the help it can get. The 30-year-old is on an expiring $9.5 million salary too, so no long-term commitment.
Thunder receive: Royce O’Neale
Nets receive: Aleksej Pokusevski, 2024 second-round pick via Rockets, 2025 second-round pick via Sixers
Speaking of former Jazz players, Bojan Bogdanovic is the best get of this trio if solely focused on offense and shooting.
The 34-year-old is having a stellar season for the Pistons, averaging 19.8 points on 46.4% shooting. He’s shooting a ridiculous 40.9% from 3 on 7.3 attempts.
If OKC adds Bogdanovic, he’d easily be their best 3-point shooter considering his history and what he’s doing on the awful Pistons. He also has plenty of playoff experience during his 10-year NBA stint.
Bogdanovic is also on an extremely reasonable deal, owed $39 million this season and next season once it becomes fully guaranteed. The Thunder’s relationship with Troy Weaver should also help facilitate a trade.
Acquiring Bogdanovic makes all the sense in the world. He fits the bill as the type of player OKC needs as a veteran wing who can really shoot the ball. Considering this, OKC might need to outbid other suitors.
Thunder receive: Bojan Bogdanovic
Pistons receive: Davis Bertans, Aaron Wiggins, 2024 top-10 protected first-round pick via Jazz, 2025 second-round pick via Celtics/Grizzlies, 2026 second-round pick via Warriors