With the NBA trade deadline a little under a month away on Feb. 9, teams across the league will soon need to figure out whether they’re buyers, sellers or somewhere in-between.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, who sit at 23-24 and are tied for the 10th-best record in the West, they’re in the grey area of both being a playoff contender and a rebuilding team.
Favale believes the Thunder should be light buyers or hold and leave their roster as is.
“Every fiber of my being wants to declare the Oklahoma City Thunder all-out buyers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has armed them with a top-10 player, Josh Giddey is evolving, Jalen Williams’ basketball intuition smacks you in the face, Kenrich Williams does a little bit of everything, Isaiah Joe is a human flamethrower, Lu Dort is finding nylon on more threes, the defense is a beautiful blend of frenetic, oft-undisciplined energy—the list goes on. And on.
And then on some more.
And did I mention the Thunder are annihilating opponents when SGA, Dort, Giddey and Kenrich Williams share the floor?
Oklahoma City has firmly planted itself inside the play-in race and remains within striking distance of a more substantive finish. There’s a chance the current ascent fades. There’s also a chance it doesn’t.
We should all endorse a more aggressive deadline approach if the Thunder were built for it. SGA, Dort, Giddey and Chet Holmgren are their four highest-paid players. None of them are going anywhere. Their fifth highest-paid player is Ousman Dieng, who is out with a fractured right wrist and someone you should keep an eye on when healthy. He makes a whopping…$4.6 million.
Limited matching salary is one issue. Roster-spot limbo is another. The Thunder project to have one open slot this summer, which they will fill with their own first-round pick or the Clippers’ selection. They’re unlikely to complicate that situation—especially with so many additional firsts coming their way after this year.
Sign me up for a “light buy” anyway. The Thunder could use more shooting. They’re second in three-point accuracy since the start of January, but even if that’s sustainable, they need a higher-volume sniper. Dangling Darius Bazley’s expiring contract alongside some lower-level assets should be enough to get them a marksman flier (Garrison Mathews? P.J….