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Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz released an article that listed the top three trade candidates for all 30 NBA teams. The trade deadline is 17 days away on Feb. 10.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will probably be sellers this deadline as playoff contenders will call in to see the price of Kenrich Williams, the 27-year-old is averaging 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 38.2 percent from three in 39 games. Williams’ is also on a cheap contract, as he has a non-guaranteed two million dollar salary for the 2022-23 season that will easily be picked up.
Trading Williams makes sense on in a vacuum. But his recent comments to The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto about wanting to stay in Oklahoma City and retire in a Thunder uniform has made things a bit complicated as the human element plays a role — especially with how his teammates and Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault continuously praise him.
With all that said, let’s take a look at the three trade targets Swartz thinks the Thunder should target along with other team’s targets that involve a Thunder player.
Dream Target: Gary Trent Jr.
Swartz mentions that the Thunder’s dream trade target is Toronto Raptors’ guard Gary Trent Jr.:
“The worst three-point shooting team in the NBA (31.2 percent), the Thunder could use Trent to bolster their outside attack. He’s tied for 18th in three-point makes per game (2.7) and has connected on 39.0 percent of his tries over the past three years. At age 23 and under contract for the next three years, he fits the rebuild in OKC.”
While Trent Jr. would be a nice addition, I have a hard time seeing the Raptors part with him. I also do not understand the logic of adding Trent Jr. — a player who will help the current team win games — since the goal of the Thunder this season is to lose as many games as possible for high lottery odds. This trade might make more sense in a couple of seasons when the Thunder are hopefully ready to start contending again.
Realistic Target: Mo Bamba
Swartz said that a realistic trade target for the Thunder is Orlando Magic big Mo Bamba:
“Bamba is a floor-spacing center who would immediately become the team’s starter. He carries elite defensive potential with a monstrous 7’10” wingspan and will be a restricted free agent this offseason.”
While Bamba, the player, makes a lot of sense for the Thunder. The contract situation is just too much of a hill to overcome. The Thunder historically do not let the guys they want in their long-term plans reach restricted free agency. I also doubt the Thunder want to commit a big contract to a player who is just now showing signs of development already. I would think the team would want their books as clean as possible until they are confident that they have attained their next core.
Sneaky Target: Serge Ibaka
And finally, Swartz finishes with a bit of nostalgia as LA Clippers forward Serge Ibaka is reunited with his first team in a sneaky trade target acquisition:
“Oklahoma City has the cap space to absorb some bad deals for teams looking to get out of the luxury tax or at least significantly reduce their bill. Ibaka hasn’t been the same player for the Clippers following back surgery, and removing his $9.7 million salary would cut their luxury tax amount by nearly 33 percent. The Thunder would rightfully ask for picks or a young player in return and could immediately waive Ibaka and let him join a contender.”
I honestly think this trade should belong in the “realistic” category as Thunder GM Sam Presti has already shown he is willing to take in bad contracts if attached with assets (Chris Paul, Al Horford, Kemba Walker, Derrick Favors). The only problem with this trade idea is that the Thunder already have a ton of picks from the Clippers, with them all either being unprotected or right swaps, so one has to wonder what exactly they have left to offer the Thunder. But that’s besides the point, if the Clippers can conjure up an appealing enough proposal of draft picks and/or young players, the Thunder are certainly in a position to take back bad salary.
Kenrich Williams suitors
Swartz also included Kenrich Williams in multiple other teams’ list of targets as his playstyle and contract should attract plenty of suitors. The Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers were the two teams in this article. For the Warriors, here’s the logic:
“Williams could be a target for all 29 teams given his defense, outside shooting and terrific contract (just $2 million this year and next). He’s constantly making the right reads and rotations while giving maximum effort—even on a lowly Thunder team. A 42.0 percent mark from three over the past two years doesn’t hurt, either.”
And for the Lakers, here’s the logic:
“Kenrich Williams and his $2 million salary are much more attainable, although the Thunder should begin asking for a first-round pick in return for their three-and-D star. The Lakers can’t trade a first-rounder until 2027 and may have to offer a collection of second-rounders and/or Malik Monk instead.”
Williams fits great for any playoff contender and would certainly play a part in a playoff rotation with his great defensive communication skills and his surprisingly well outside shooting.
Mike Muscala suitors
The other veteran on the Thunder squad in Mike Muscala is also listed on a couple of team’s wish list. Muscala is averaging 8.1 points while shooting a career-high 43.3 percent from three on 3.8 attempts a game. The 30-year-old also has a team option for next at 3.5 million that will probably be picked up if he continues to shoot like this. The teams listed as potential suitors are the Brooklyn Nets and Warriors.
For the Nets, here’s the logic:
“Muscala is a floor-spacing center who would keep the driving lanes open for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. He’s not the defensive force Poeltl is, but his 44.1 percent mark from three is the fourth-highest in the NBA.”
For the Warriors, here’s the logic:
“Muscala is another low-cost option for the Warriors and provides them with a floor-spacing center, something current starter Kevon Looney simply doesn’t do. He’d be a nice change-of-pace option off the bench even when James Wiseman returns.”
Much like Williams, Muscala has repeatedly spoken glowingly about his time with the Thunder and just how much he enjoys being in Oklahoma City. So it’s going to be interesting how Presti balances doing what’s best for the franchise and not upsetting too many players in the locker room if they trade one or both locker room leaders.