Thunder Trade Rumors: OKC in Talks with All 5 Teams Above It in 2021 NBA Draft

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 29, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - SEPTEMBER 26: Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks to media at preseason media availability at the Thunder ION on September 26, 2019 in Oklahoma City, OKlahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder are reportedly "active in trade talks" with an eye toward moving up from the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft on Thursday night.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported OKC is "engaging with all five teams ahead of them" on the hope of landing either Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley or Scottie Barnes, three of the class' top prospects.

The Thunder are in a unique spot. They were tied for the NBA's fourth-worst record during the 2020-21 season at 22-50, which ended to a five-year playoff streak, but they have enough pieces to make a quick turnaround.

They acquired Kemba Walker from the Boston Celtics to serve as a veteran leader for a promising young core that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley, among others.

So getting one of the draft class' instant-impact players—Cunningham, Mobley and Barnes all qualify—would give OKC a chance to see some real progress in 2021-22.

There's a little drop-off once you get outside the top five, though. Players such as Jonathan Kuminga and James Bouknight still possess ample upside, but what type of role they'll play as rookies is tougher to project.

Oklahoma City does have the assets to make a rock-solid offer to move up. Along with the No. 6 pick, it also owns Nos. 16 and 18 in the first round along with three selections in the second round. So a team inside the top five that's willing to bet on the class' impressive depth could get quite a haul from the Thunder.

General manager Sam Presti explained Tuesday their draft decisions will be driven by finding players who can "thrive in your organization." He told reporters

"We always try to move up. If we're 60, we want to be 59. If we're 59, we want to be 58. We're always looking to move and find ways, but I wouldn't say we're doing that blindly. We have to always assess what's the value proposition, what is it that we are willing to do and where are we willing to get to."

Ultimately, the Thunder are in a no-lose situation with six picks in a strong draft. If they stand pat, they'll have a lot of talent that can grow together over the next handful of years. If they use some of those picks to trade up, they'll land another cornerstone to accelerate the rebuild.

Their assets and numerous options on how to handle the situation make them one of the most interesting teams to watch heading into Thursday night.