NBA Draft 2019 Trade Rumors: Thunder Want to Deal No. 21 Pick for Salary Relief

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder general manger Sam Presti answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly had conversations with teams about trading the No. 21 overall pick in June's draft for salary relief.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Thunder have spoken to "various" teams in the lead-up to the draft.

The Thunder had the NBA's second-highest payroll during the 2018-19 season at $142.9 million, behind only the Golden State Warriors. Oklahoma City will also have to pay an exorbitant luxury-tax sum this offseason.

The Thunder currently have the NBA's highest payroll for the 2019-20 season ($147.6 million). The rookie-scale amount for this year's 21st pick is $2.1 million, but it would cost the Thunder far more since they're well above the luxury-tax threshold for this coming season.

The Thunder will likely attempt to improve their roster through free agency and/or trades this offseason. They have a win-now mentality with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, but two straight first-round exits have magnified the deficiencies in their supporting cast.

Oklahoma City could also look to draft-and-stash a prospect at No. 21. That would alleviate current cap concerns with that pick while also giving the franchise a potentially promising piece down the road.

The Thunder are no strangers to using cost-cutting measures during the draft. They took Josh Huestis with the No. 29 pick in the 2014 draft with the understanding that he would not sign his rookie contract that season and would instead play in the G League. Huestis signed his rookie deal ahead of the 2015-16 season and played only 76 games for the franchise.