Now we move forward to the team that owns the third draft pick in this year's NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder
Young OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti has impressed a lot of teams with the moves he has made in renovating this franchise. Now comes another opportunity for this former San Antonio Spurs personnel to show what he has learned under the tutelage of R.C. Buford.
In the last three drafts he has taken Jeff Green (#5), Kevin Durant (#2), and Russell Westbrook (#4), all mainstays with the Thunder. While it has helped that he's had high selections in the draft, it is projected that they should at least seriously challenge for the playoffs a season from now.
Here are the three possibilities for them to explore:
1) Trade Up.
The Thunder are rumored to be packaging their third draft pick and either Jeff Green or Westbrook for the chance to get the Clippers 1st draft pick. Is there a possibility that the Clippers will grab that offer? Unfortunately, very slim.
If the Clippers will only accept if the Thunder would be willing to take Baron Davis' contract, should the Thunder accept it? I say Amen. What about if it was Zach Randolph? No way.
Not only will it alter the natural make-up of the team with two power forwards, one being to-be number one Blake Griffin and ego-centric Zach Randolph, it would also give the Thunder a bad tomato in their basket. Presti doesn't want that. He only gets high character players and Griffin fits the bill. He is worth that much trouble to explore almost all the possibilities (including Durant is a deal-breaker).
2) Trade Down.
Before trading down, we should first assess what is to gain in trading down.
It surely won't give the Thunder cap flexibility, they already have that.
How about more draft picks in the future? Nope. No way are the Thunder going to be assured they'd get as high a draft pick they already have now.
How about a veteran and/or the other team's lower draft pick? Now we're talking. But with who?
Although there is an abundance of point guards and the Kings own the rights to select 23rd, it is not hard to imagine the Maloofs gambling to get the point guard they need to effectively distribute the ball to Kevin Martin and Hawes.
I don't see them getting a big with the fourth draft pick with the nice showing of bigs Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes. They could select Harden, Jennings, or Flynn who is a reach at number four.
But if Rubio is still on board with number three, they just might gamble on his upside and also to win back their season ticket holders as they plan to move to a new arena within a few years.
While Caron Butler suggested before that if they don't have the chance to grab Blake Griffin they should just trade for a veteran, he is not the Wizards GM. With the possibility of getting Thabeet or Rubio, they could and would go back to the playoffs without further endangering there salary cap.
Also if they'll land Rubio, they are getting a point guard with veteran basketball IQ as well as the flexibility to move Agent Zero to shooting guard. But the question is, what can they offer to make the Thunder bite? Andray Blatche and the rights to the fifth pick? Not tempting enough!
The Knicks are picking eighth and are said to be interested in Stephen Curry. It can be a trick to lure other teams to select Curry and get the real player they are interested in, only Donnie Walsh knows. But they cannot deny they want Ricky Rubio. If he's still on board with the third pick, look for Mr. Walsh to give Mr. Presti a call.
A combination of David Lee and the eighth draft pick might be offered for third and another player the Thunder franchise has NOT drafted. And with the eight pick the Thunder may use it to tab either Stephen Curry, Johnny Flynn, or DeMar Derozan.
3) Grab What's left of the Trio.
The Thunder arent' bad, but don't have a real center nor a pure point guard (Westbrook is a tweener). Fortunately for them, the third draft pick would leave them with either a very good defensive center in Hasheem Thabeet or a very good playmaker in Spaniard Ricky Rubio.
Since the chips are falling pretty well for Presti and his crew, should they then leave it to the Clippers (who's sure to grab Griffin unless they're that stupid) and the Grizzlies? Either Thabeet nor Rubio!
The Thunder's future looks bright. If I were Presti, if I can get Thabeet, I'd stay with him. If I could get Rubio, I'll look for other worthwhile possibilities.
What are your thoughts?