NBA Trade Speculation: 10 Intriguing Trade Ideas for the OKC Thunder
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Let me start off with a disclaimer:
This article is merely describing intriguing, yet doable trade ideas for the Thunder. It is written intentionally to provoke conversation, because what else do we have to do during the lockout?
That being said, I really do think all these trade ideas are doable, but are they all brilliant ideas that will put the Thunder on the top of the Western Conference for years to come? Maybe not.
But a lot of these proposed trades would help significantly, and they just might give the Thunder an edge they didn't have before.
With free agency still looming in front of our faces while the lockout continues, the idea of trading players in the offseason has gone somewhat unnoticed.
Here are a few ideas to kick-start our imaginations.
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I'm starting off this article with a few boring, yet doable trade ideas. Here's the first one:
Thunder receive: Marcus Thornton
Kings receive: Nate Robinson, Byron Mullens, 2012 Draft Pick
Although I love Nate Robinson, the high-flying point guard has no place on the Thunder. With Westbrook, Maynor, and draft-pick Reggie Jackson on the roster, Robinson will continue to see little to no playtime. And while Byron Mullens has shown potential in games (mostly D-League), there's only so much time a team can spend on a "project."
On paper, this looks like a terrible trade for the Kings after Marcus Thornton proved to be a valuable asset to the team upon his arrival in Sacramento last season. However, the Kings now have a log-jam at shooting guard with Thornton, combo guards Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette, and newly acquired John Salmons. Thornton will be fighting for minutes every night.
This works out for both teams in the end, because even though the Kings have a log-jam at shooting guard, they lack a "true" point guard. This is something that Nate Robinson can provide, as he is a more than capable point guard in this league.
With the Thunder, Thornton's presence would allow James Harden to move into the starting lineup for sure, and he would provide the scoring punch from the bench that Harden would be vacating.
That spot is currently lined up for Jackson, but with no summer league due to the lockout, Jackson will be playing in his first NBA game cold turkey. Thornton would take the pressure off of Jackson to do well immediately.
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Because Sacramento has a log-jam at shooting guard, this is the other option:
Thunder receive: John Salmons
Kings receive: Nate Robinson, Cole Aldrich
Even though the Kings just acquired Salmons from Milwaukee, there's a good chance they could use him as trade bait to keep the younger Thornton around. Again, this would benefit the Thunder because they would be adding a much needed bench-scoring back-up to Harden and Kevin Durant.
And, again, this would take the pressure off of Jackson to perform early.
Salmons can play both shooting guard and small forward, which would be a plus for the Thunder, but I'm not sure Salmons would be okay with having a bench role.
Not to mention, I just like the Thornton option more, anyway.
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This may be the most boring, yet intriguing trade of the article:
Thunder receive: Tony Allen, 2012 Draft Pick
Grizzlies receive: Thabo Sefolosha, Cole Aldrich
Again, this trade looks awkward on paper, but when you break it down, it kind of almost makes sense. Hear me out.
With Harden (hopefully) moving into the starting lineup, Thabo Sefolosha would instantly become Kevin Durant's back-up, playing 10 to 15 minutes per game, rather than the 26 he was averaging last season. This isn't a problem at all, as long as Jackson provides the bench scoring that Harden is leaving behind, because unless Thabo's offensive-game changes drastically over the summer, he's not going to provide the spark.
While Tony Allen isn't highly regarded for his offense, he is certainly more capable than Thabo, and is an even better defender, which is a high regard since Thabo is a great defensive player.
So, why would Memphis give up Allen in exchange for a player who is slightly less average than him and a project in Cole Aldrich?
Shane Battier is a free agent. When the lockout ends, there's a good chance that he'll be out of Memphis. Allen can't play small forward, but Thabo can. Memphis already has three capable shooting guards in O.J. Mayo, Xavier Henry and Sam Young.
Needless to say, sparing Allen may be better for them in the end. It would certainly be better for the Thunder.
Also, Allen would only have to guard Durant in practice. That alone should make all Thunder fans happy.
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Thunder receive: Austin Daye, 2012 Draft Pick
Pistons receive: Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullens, Nate Robinson, 2012 Draft Pick
Is this giving up too much for a back-up small forward? Not in my eyes. Here's why:
Stuckey is a free agent, and there's a really good chance he'll be gone. Nate Robinson instantly finds a spot on Detroit's roster, which makes it a good trade for both teams.
Aldrich and Mullens are both big-men projects who haven't panned out for the Thunder. Granted, Aldrich has only spent a year in the system, but when there are four front-court players ahead of you on the depth chart (Ibaka, Perkins, Collison, Mohammed), there's no reason to keep you around when you can acquire an immediate back-up.
The Pistons are a mess. They're going to be in rebuilding mode for the next few years, and Aldrich and Mullens provide young talent to go along with Greg Monroe.
While Daye is highly regarded by the Pistons, this actually may be a nice enough offer to turn him loose.
Daye would provide length and scoring to the Thunder bench, and by keeping Sefolosha around, the Thunder would still have a go-to defensive specialist.
Also, by swapping 2012 draft picks, the Thunder would likely be guaranteed a lottery pick in a better than average draft. Although, swapping picks may be a deal-breaker.
But, let's think positive.
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This trade is a stretch, but it comes with the hope that Orlando will decide to completely rejuvenate their team and start the rebuilding process when Howard leaves:
Thunder receive: Hedo Turkoglu
Magic receive: Thabo Sefolosha, Nate Robinson, Byron Mullens
Like John Salmons, I'm not sure Hedo is quite ready to make the transition to playing back-up to Kevin Durant, but at age 32 and watching his production slip every year, it might be time for Hedo to start thinking about being on a championship contender if he ever wants a title.
The Thunder should jump at this opportunity. Even though Hedo is getting older, the only player that the Thunder would be "losing" is Sefolosha, and Turkoglu is an immediate upgrade. He would provide scoring off the bench and a veteran presence.
Again, it's highly unlikely that the Magic would ever make this trade, but let's at least look at the positives for them:
Thabo is a great defender and slasher, and in time he could possibly develop into a scoring threat; Nate Robinson is an upgrade to Chris Duhon in terms of backing up Jameer Nelson, and he would provide a scoring spark off the bench, not to mention, it would be fun to watch him and Howard play together; Mullens provides a 7'0" project for the Magic to develop, which could come in handy if he pans out and Howard leaves.
All in all, it's really not a bad trade for either team.
This may be even more far-fetched than the Turkoglu trade:
Thunder receive: Michael Beasley
Timberwolves receive: Nate Robinson, Cole Aldrich, 2012 First Round Draft Pick
Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Of course this is far-fetched, there's no way the T-Wolves would give up Beasley for that," but in reality, why wouldn't they? I only think this trade is far-fetched because Beasley is a player that would need at least 25 to 30 minutes per game, and the Thunder may not want to cut into Ibaka's minutes, because they surely won't cut into Durant's.
Why do I think Robinson, Aldrich, and a draft pick is enough to entice Kahn into trading away Beasley? Kahn. Loves. Draft picks. And in a loaded 2012 draft, Kahn will want as many as he can get.
Also, Beasley is going to be the player that gets the shaft on the Timberwolves. Kahn will trade him away before Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, or Wesley Johnson. And with this trade, Kahn gets even more trade-bait in Nate Robinson (because the Wolves don't need him), and a project in Aldrich who can actually play center. Aldrich could be a solid back-up to Darko, and even challenge him for a starting role if he continues to develop.
But in all seriousness, while Beasley may be the absolutely perfect fit for the Thunder in terms of what they need out of a back-up, he would likely grow unhappy of his role and cause some problems.
Maybe Perkins can glare at him a few times, though. That would put me in place.
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This is where the trades start getting interesting:
Thunder receive: Caron Butler, 2012 Second Round Draft Pick
Mavericks receive: Thabo Sefolosha, Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullens, Nate Robinson, 2012 First Round Draft Pick
Okay, I know this seems like a lot for the Thunder to give up for a player coming off of an injury that cut his season short by 50-plus games, but it may be a move that could put the Thunder at the top of the conference for years to come.
Even though Butler is a free-agent, Mark Cuban would be wise to re-sign him to a serviceable contract (maybe two years, 14 million) and then try to use him as trade bait. If nobody picks up on it, then fine, the Mavs have a really good small forward for the next two years, but this would be a good enough contract for other teams to want to take on, such as the Thunder.
Caron would be a huge upgrade over Thabo, and the Thunder could easily part ways with Cole, Byron, and Nate and not feel any different about their team.
The Mavs could be interested in a guy like Thabo to possibly replace their defensive-stopper DeShawn Stephenson if he decides to leave in free-agency, and Aldrich would be a nice project to take on with Dirk getting older and Chandler possibly leaving, as well.
In all likelihood, the Mavs will look different next season. This could take away some of their chances at a repeat, and even though Butler has officially won his first title, I'm sure he's anxious to get another chance so he can actually play.
The Thunder would be a great fit for Butler if he was willing to reduce his minutes.
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Thunder receive: Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith
Nuggets receive: Thabo Sefolosha, Cole Aldrich, Nate Robinson, Byron Mullens, 2012 First Round Draft Pick
Wilson Chandler is a really nice player, and again, he would be an immediate upgrade over Sefolosha. The Nuggets could be interested in this swap due to Danilo Gallinari's presence. Gallinari is set to be their starting small-forward of the future, and Chandler's ability demands play-time.
Sefolosha, on the other hand, would be a nice defensive stopper for the Nuggets, who currently rely on Aaron Afflalo for defensive specialties.
Afflalo has really grown as an offensive-player, and Thabo's presence could help take some of the pressure off of Afflalo to produce at a high-level on both ends of the court for the entire game.
Aldrich provides a nice addition to a Denver front-court that consists of Nene (who may be leaving), Kenyon Martin (who is passed his prime), Chris "Birdman" Anderson (who may be the most underrated AND overrated player in the NBA), Kenneth Faried (who has yet to play a game in the NBA), and Al Harrington (who is the definition of "hit or miss").
Chandler would find a nice home on the Thunder, splitting minutes with Harden and Durant. And yes, I know, in Denver he would technically be splitting minutes with Afflalo and Gallinari, two players that shouldn't demand as many minutes as Harden and Durant.
But the difference is, Chandler is of the same caliber as Afflalo and Gallinari. He should be playing at least 25 minutes per game if not more in Denver. In OKC, 25 minutes per game seems like a stretch, and playing 20 minutes per game behind Harden and Durant may feel okay.
It's an odd thing to think about, but it makes sense.
J.R. Smith would be a perfect bench-scorer for the Thunder, but his attitude isn't very attractive, and that's why he's always on the trading block. However, he has all the talent in the world, and being around a close-knit group like the Thunder may be the key to humbling his persona.
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These last two trades are the most drastic, and I actually might not be a huge fan of this one:
Thunder receive: Andre Iguodala, Jodie Meeks
76ers receive: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Nate Robinson
Okay, I absolutely love James Harden. I think he has all the potential in the world as the Thunder's starting shooting guard. He still has to develop, but he will eventually have a better all-around offensive game than Iguodala, I feel. But right now, Iggy is the superior player. No question.
Behind Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, Iggy is one of the best defending shooting guards in the league. And while his offensive stats slipped a bit last season, a lot of that could be credited to injuries. He's a great passer, can score in multiple ways and is a great team player.
That's not to say James Harden isn't all of those things, it's just that Iggy is a bit better at them.
Again, giving up Aldrich and Robinson doesn't mean much to the Thunder, but both could be good acquisitions for the 76ers. They need front-court depth more than anything, and Aldrich is a good project for that.
By getting the 76ers to throw in Meeks, the Thunder would have an offensive spark on their bench, which is what Meeks provides currently for Philadelphia. He and Daequan Cook (if he is still around) would be fun to watch on the court at the same time when Scott Brooks runs his second squad.
All in all, this trade probably helps the Thunder out right now, but honestly, I'd rather have Harden for the long run.
Golden State Warriors
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I know I just raved about rather having Harden than Iguodala in the long run, but if this trade were to present itself, I don't know if Sam Presti could turn it down:
Thunder receive: Monta Ellis, Al Thornton
Warriors receive: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullens, Robert Vaden, 2012 Draft Pick
Like Iguodala, Monta Ellis has been the subject of a lot of trade gossip. Many believe the pick of Klay Thompson in the draft was proof that Ellis is going to be out of town as soon as the lockout ends. This would allow Thompson to move into the starting line-up alongside Stephen Curry.
But is Thompson ready for the spotlight already? Wouldn't the Warriors love the idea of getting James Harden to start in the backcourt with his fellow 2009 draft pick? This would give Thompson time to develop, and he'd still get ample playing time as the back-up shooting guard.
The Warriors are also in need of some serious front-court depth. Aldrich is a good addition to the Warriors' line-up. Not to mention, they'd be getting another draft pick to do anything they want with in a stock-piled 2012 draft and another big man project in Byron Mullens.
They may want more for Ellis, such as a big man to start next to David Lee, but if they're just looking to start fresh, Harden is a great piece to pick up. They can always pick up a veteran big man in free agency.
For the Thunder, the departure of James Harden would be sad, but can you imagine Westbrook, Ellis, and Durant playing at the same time? How would opposing teams guard that?
Harden may turn out to be a superior defender, but Ellis is pretty underrated when it comes to defense. Last year he averaged 2.1 steals per game. For all those ragging on Monta's defense, there's no arguing with that stat.
The Thunder would take on Al Thornton in the deal as well, and he would fit the need of a solid back-up for Kevin Durant. This would allow the Thunder to play Thabo Sefolosha only in spot situations as a defensive specialist.
The Warriors may never accept this deal, they may get greedy, but in the end, this isn't a bad deal for either team.
With Ellis in OKC, the Thunder would have to be the automatic favorite to win the West for years to come.