OKC Thunder's NBA Trade Deadline Strategy Blueprint
So with the NBA trade deadline fast approaching, what should be at the top of Thunder GM Sam Presti's to-do list?
Get somebody that can contain LeBron James.
Yes, I've watched basketball over the past decade, and I understand there's not a soul on earth that can stop LeBron. However, he still has to be contained. And after watching King James destroy every defender the Thunder threw at him, there's no reason to believe they have the personnel to do so.
There are players in the league with enough strength and length to give LeBron problems too. One such option that could work for Oklahoma City is P.J. Tucker of the Phoenix Suns.
Tucker doesn't exactly fill up box scores, but he has given Kevin Durant problems in Oklahoma City's four games against the Suns. Although Durant's averages against Phoenix are just as good as his averages against the rest of the league, you could see Tucker never really let him get comfortable.
Let's face it, players like James and Durant can only be contained, and one of the keys is not allowing them to get going early in games. Tucker has the ability to make that happen against superstar players—something the Thunder obviously need to beat the Heat and win a championship.
Oklahoma City has pieces to work with if they really wanted to make this trade work.
Reggie Jackson has replaced former backup point guard Eric Maynor.
Maynor still has talent and can still help the right team, but his value is deteriorating at the end of Oklahoma City's bench. Why not move him now and get a player that can actually help the team capture a title?
Not only do they have a talented backup point guard at their disposal, but the Thunder also have multiple draft picks to work with.
According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman's current mock draft, the Thunder are selecting No. 8 in the lottery. Not that Tucker would command more than just Maynor, but it definitely works as a bargaining chip for Presti.
In all reality, the Thunder will likely stick with the roster they have. They've already made the biggest trade of the season, and they're going into the NBA's unofficial second half with the second-best record in the Western Conference. And according to Daily Thunder's Royce Young, the Thunder are still equipped to take down Miami.
It's not like Miami has blown Oklahoma City out of the water in their six straight wins since last year's Finals. All four of the Thunder's losses in the Finals were close, and the two teams' matchup on Christmas Day was contested into the fourth quarter. No doubt Oklahoma City can beat Miami, they just have to find improvements from within the roster if they don't make a move.
Whether the Thunder make a move or not, they're still young. They still have a bright future, and the cornerstones of the franchise are only 24 years old. Plus, Kevin Martin has proven to be a valiant sixth man, replacing James Harden.
There's no telling what is in Presti's bag going into the trade deadline, but if the Thunder want to top the Heat, they have to find a player to contain LeBron.
The problem is, that player might not be on their current roster.
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