(The above video is 100% rigged!)
Hello again Thunder fans! For those of you who don’t know, the NBA trade deadline is coming up this Thursday. As such, the trade rumors are flying around like crazy. If you looked at a NBA rumors site right now, you’d be convinced that the Thunder were about to trade Durant and Westbrook for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael Jordan, the rights to Nenad Krstic, and a 2056 first round draft pick. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for. Here’s the lowdown on some of the rumors that have been floating around lately.
The Thunder Trade Eric Maynor to Utah
If any player is to move, by far the most likely candidate is Eric Maynor. He’s been effectively cut out of the Thunder’s rotation. Moreover, he refused to go down to the D-League earlier this year, which is a huge no-no as far as the Thunder are concerned. He was almost traded to Philadelphia, but they decided to go for a D-Leaguer to solve their backup point guard woes. With his salary coming off the books at the end of the season, the Thunder are going to do everything in their power to get some value out of his contract.
Right now, the guys who have the most interest in Maynor are Utah and Detroit. With an injured Mo Williams, Utah has living NBA fossils Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson playing the point guard spots, and it’s hurt them at critical times. Maynor would be a solid answer for them, but reports are coming in that the Thunder are asking for too much. If any trade is going to happen, it would have to be a larger-scale deal for Al Jefferson or Paul Milsap, who the Jazz may be forced to trade because of salary reasons. Deals involving those players would have to include Jeremy Lamb, and they would likely include another big man with a big contract, like Nick Collison or Kendrick Perkins.
Verdict: Iffy at best. I seriously doubt the Jazz would let go of their great big man core for a bad replacement, a late lottery pick, and a temporary backup point guard. But hay, I’ve seen crazier things happen.
The Thunder Trade Eric Maynor to Detroit for Will Bynum
This trade has been floated around for a while, and could potentially include the Thunder’s lottery pick (from the Raptors). Will Bynum, who you probably haven’t heard of, is a scoring point guard getting good numbers on a garbage team. It’s hard to know exactly how good he is, but most would generally agree that he would take Reggie Jackson’s place in the rotation and provide some serious offensive punch to the Thunder’s bench. The downside? He’s a free agent in the Summer.
Verdict: Iffy at best. The Thunder can’t say no to Reggie Jackson again without mortgaging their future. Plus, giving up a lottery pick for a half-season rental is a tough pill to swallow.
The Thunder Trade Eric Maynor to Toronto
Toronto’s shown a strong interest in Eric Maynor as of yesterday, and they definitely have the pieces to do so. They’d be looking to replace John Lucas III as their backup point guard, because he shoots very poorly from the field. But no potential deal has really been reported. Most would think that the Raptors are looking to move Andrea Bargnani, who has seen his offense hit the crapper. But the Raptors seem interested in keeping him as a overpaid bench scorer, and the Thunder wouldn’t want a player who refuses to play defense. My best guess is that the Thunder take a flier on someone like Landry Fields, who has fallen out of Toronto’s rotation himself, or they make a power play for a big fish like Bargnani or Derozan.
Verdict: No chance. Toronto wants their pick back, but there’s cheaper PG options out there, and the Thunder aren’t going to settle. Plus, Toronto is tearing up the East right now, and they sniff playoffs.
The Thunder Trade Kendrick Perkins to Boston for Kevin Garnett
This is the trade rumor that’s floated around the most by analysts and pundits, though there have been no actual reports saying that either team is interested. It would be an interesting swap considering that Perk left Boston two years ago. It’s also interesting to note that after the 2010-2011 season, Boston literally asked to undo the trade by offering the same deal again, but in reverse. OKC quickly rejected that.
In any case, any deal involving Perk and Garnett would also have to involves some young assets on the Thunder’s part. Lamb or Jones plus a draft pick is the most likely penalty. The possibility of having KG on the team would be huge for Oklahoma City, even though he’s a one year rental. He provides the same amount of post defense that Perk does, but he’s also a lot more nimble and provides about five times the amount of offense. The deal would be a gamble at a title this year, basically, but it would also hamstring the Thunder a bit down the road. (In other words, we’re guaranteed to have starting center headaches in about 1-2 years.)
Verdict: It’s a slight possibility. If Oklahoma City wants a title to their name, then who knows? This deal doesn’t mess with the team’s core, and it frees up a lot of salary moving forward. But it would hinge on Boston giving up on their last title hopes, and them seeing Oklahoma City as a potential trade partner. There might still be sour grapes after 2011.
Final Verdict: Okay, so I’ve ruled that most of these trades aren’t very likely to happen. What is likely to happen? Basically, expect to see the Thunder cave in at the last minute and make a small-time deal for Eric Maynor. Maybe a late first round pick down the road and an expiring. They definitely want to clear some cap, but so does everybody else, and it’s hard to mess with a successful team. Still, I would have probably said the same thing going into 2011′s trade deadline, and look what happened! In other words, just knock on wood and hope for the best. Because nobody can predict what Presti will do come zero hour.
Random Thunder Highlight of the Week:
We all know the All-Star game is kind of a joke. It’s basically an excuse for the players to show off and the announcers to make tired old jokes about how players shouldn’t get hurt. But both teams actually try in the fourth, and it was a joy to see Westbrook, Harden, and Durant take over the game once again. Unfortunately, Kevin Durant is the most boring All-Star player ever, and just does basic dunks and jumpers for no reason. So here’s a highlight from Harden and Westbrook. It’s not the best highlight from the game, but it certainly makes you wonder why the heck Russell Westbrook hasn’t entered the dunk contest yet.
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