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Remember when the Boston Celtics traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2014, then used their absurd amount of assets to march to the top tier of the Eastern Conference?
The Oklahoma City Thunder are about to put that blueprint into overdrive.
The Thunder now have all the picks
A week after the Thunder shockingly traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for an absurd amount of draft picks, general manager Sam Presti reportedly continued the team's rebuild by trading Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul ... and a somewhat less absurd amount of draft picks.
Between the George trade, the Westbrook trade and the Jerami Grant trade, here is how the Thunder’s future first-round draft picks are shaping up:
2020: Thunder if it falls in the top 20, Nuggets if it falls out of the top 10
2021: Thunder, Heat unprotected, with a right to swap either with the Rockets
2022: Thunder if it falls in the top 14, Clippers unprotected
2023: Thunder, Heat if it falls outside the top 14, can swap own pick with Clippers
2024: Thunder, Clippers unprotected, Rockets if it falls outside the top 4
2025: Thunder, can swap pick with Clippers or Rockets
2026: Thunder, Clippers unprotected, Rockets if falls outside the top 4
Count that up and you get an absurd 15 first-round picks over seven drafts if all of the picks convey, as well as the ability to swap picks in three different years.
And that’s not even mentioning the promising young point guard acquired from the Clippers in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Thunder’s future is looking bright
While the Thunder’s haul over the next two years isn’t huge, we could be seeing a simply gargantuan collection of assets if either the Rockets or Clippers can’t keep it together for seven years. And if this offseason is any indication, keeping a winning team together for that long is borderline impossible.
Leonard and George could be leaving the Clippers as early as 2021. Which would leave the Thunder with access to a gutted team’s first-rounders for a half-decade.
The Thunder can now fully retool for the future around Gilgeous-Alexander. The team doesn’t even really need to bottom out, because it could basically have two other teams drafting on its behalf in a few years.
Losing stars like George and Westbrook is painful, and even that many draft picks is no guarantee you land the superstar you need to contend in the NBA, but no team should be in this good of a position after what’s happened to the Thunder this offseason.
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