The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2012 trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets for a collection of players and draft picks is seen as one of the biggest moves in recent memory. While the play of Steven Adams this past postseason caused many to tab the Thunder as the real winners of the deal, the prevailing view says that the team’s owners sacrificed its best advantage for some short-term financial relief. Harden’s continued development into one of the NBA’s best offensive weapons is the biggest takeaway from the trade, and it’s fair to say that it will be for some time.
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Nevertheless, the Thunder will not stop trying to get as much value out of the deal as they can. So it’s extra notable that they look set to sign the last remaining asset of the trade to the roster very soon.
Houston sent over three draft picks in the trade — two first-rounders and a second-rounder. Adams and fellow big man Mitch McGary were selected with the first two, and Spanish wing Alex Abrines became the final pick when the Thunder took him with the 32nd pick in 2013. The 22-year-old has developed as a member of European power Barcelona, and it looks like he’s committed to playing for OKC. From Nikos Varlas for EuroHoops.net:
Alex Abrines and Oklahoma City Thunder have a deal. The Spanish forward has agreed to terms for a three year contract which will pay him near $18 million in total.
Of course with this kind of money, his buy out from Barcelona can be easily covered and he will follow his teammate, Tomas Satoransky to the NBA. Abrines is ready to cross the Atlantic and the 2 million euros buy out in his contract with Barcelona is one of the reasons he got such an offer from the Thunder, as the NBA team can pay up to $650.000 and the rest of the money will be paid by the player.
The current exchange rate would put Abrines’s personal buyout payment at more than $1.7 million, which is a not insubstantial figure. We can only assume that he is comfortable with assuming that cost if it allows him to play in the NBA.
It is unlikely that the Thunder have signed an immediate replacement for Kevin Durant, but Abrines is a very solid prospect. He will bring much-needed shooting to OKC after converting 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts in EuroLeague play this season. Abrines also won the tournament’s Rising Star award, an honor that usually predicts some NBA success. It’s fair to anticipate the young Spaniard developing into a valuable rotation player, if not more.
That possibility probably won’t put Thunder fans’ minds at ease given all that’s happened this summer. But OKC needs all the quality players it can get right now in its attempt to stay in the postseason hunt and keep Russell Westbrook invested in the franchise’s future. Abrines can help that process, even if his arrival brings reminders of a trade that many think hurt the Thunder in the long run.
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