The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost four of their past five games. They lost starting shooting guard Andre Roberson for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon. Russell Westbrook and the rest of the team need some help if they are to make it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The Thunder are in a tough spot because they don’t have much financial flexibility. Westbrook, George, and Anthony’s salaries are all very high, and if the Thunder keep the team together, they will be paying the luxury tax every year. Additionally, the Thunder do not have a first-round draft pick this year because they traded it away in the Enes Kanter trade three years ago. To put it bluntly, the Thunder do not have very many tradeable assets.
If the Thunder are to make a move, they will acquire a guard who can defend. The team has not defended well since Roberson’s injury. With that being said, here are a few players the Thunder could target before tomorrow’s trade deadline:
It would make sense for the Thunder to go after a great defensive player after losing Roberson. Allen is exactly that. He has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team three times and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team three times.
Allen was a thorn in the Thunder’s side for years when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was responsible for guarding Kevin Durant one-on-one in three brutal playoff series between the Grizzlies and Thunder. The Thunder barely won two of those series in seven games. Allen’s defense on Durant enhanced the rivalry.
Allen was just acquired by the Chicago Bulls in a trade last week. He spent the first part of the season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Allen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, which will lessen his trade value. He is 36 years old and is nearing the end of his career, but he would still be a valuable addition to the Thunder.
Bradley is another defensive stalwart who was traded last week. He was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers from the Detroit Pistons as part of the Blake Griffin trade.
Bradley has averaged a shade below 15 points per game this season and would fit right into Roberson’s role. He doesn’t have Roberson’s size, but he is a much better shooter and has a lot of experience playing with aggressive point guards. Bradley had his best offensive season last year alongside former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas.
If the Thunder are going to trade for Bradley, they will have to give up a valuable asset. I don’t think this trade will happen because Bradley is a free agent at the end of the year. The Thunder would not be able to re-sign him, and it would not be worth it to give up something significant for half of a season of Bradley.
The Boston Celtics have been rumored to be interested in trading Smart because he is a free agent at the end of the season. Smart played in college at Oklahoma State, so for that reason it would make sense for the Thunder to trade for him.
However, the Thunder should not trust Danny Ainge and the Celtics. Ainge swindled the Nets in the Kevin Garnett–Paul Pierce trade and essentially acquired star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers for Jae Crowder and a mid-to-late lottery pick. There is no way the Thunder could possibly give the Celtics all that they would want in exchange for Smart. He would be a great fit and would bring a level of toughness to the team, but this trade will not happen.
If the Thunder decides to make a move, they will only make one trade for one player. There will not be multiple new additions to the roster.
My guess is that they try to trade for some one like Allen, but they will not give up too much for him. If a deal cannot be worked out, then Oklahoma City will stand pat.
Ultimately, whoever they would trade for is not going to close the gap between them and the elite teams in the league. Golden State and Houston would still be the heavy favorites to get to the Western Conference Finals.
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