NBA Draft 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder in the Running for Bradley Beal?

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NBA Draft 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder in the Running for Bradley Beal?
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The pre-draft flurry is never short on chatter, and the latest bit of rumor—per ESPN's Andy Katz—involves the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder and a certain lottery prospect:

Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis appears to be a lock to go No. 1 to New Orleans in Thursday's NBA draft, leaving Florida freshman Bradley Beal as the most coveted player.

Charlotte is considering offers for the No. 2 pick, notably from No. 4 Cleveland, and if the Bobcats were to pass on Beal for some reason, No. 3 Washington is ready to scoop him up.

But the desire to nab Beal isn't limited to the top four.

The chances of a playoff team getting Beal are slim, but Finals runner-up Oklahoma City has invested quality time figuring out a way to get up high enough to land Beal.

Beal told ESPN.com Wednesday that Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti told him during an interview in Chicago that he was interested in trying to move up to draft him. The Thunder's first-round pick isn't until No. 28.

"He told me he was going to decide what they're going to do and considered getting up there," Beal said.

On the most superficial level, the notion that Beal—or any prospect short of Anthony Davis—could be even remotely equivalent to a proven commodity like Harden is foolish.

That said, any move that the Thunder could possibly make involving Harden (or Serge Ibaka, for that matter) would be about far more than reciprocal value.

Presti is in a position where the luxury tax virtually demands that he move either Harden or Ibaka, meaning that there's a bit of a ticking clock on a promising core. The Thunder could bide their time through the end of the 2012-13 season, but at some point, Presti will have to make a move, or OKC's ownership will have to cough up ungodly sums of money in order to keep the roster intact. 

Considering just how vicious the luxury-tax penalties get from this point on, that seems highly unlikely.

And thus, the Thunder's trade calculations begin, and begin getting a bit weird. There's no metric equivalent for Harden, and even if there were, it would likely come with an equally problematic price tag.

So, Presti and his staff are tasked with finding a more difficult arrangement and could very well have their sights set on Beal. He's no Harden, and frankly, he may never even come remotely close, but this is the kind of unbalanced alternative that the Thunder are forced to accept.

And while Beal may not be the option of choice, he's present, available and full of untarnished potential.

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