Thunder Offseason Plan
I was just thinking about what the Thunder could do this offseason and I kind of realized that the best thing to do was to implement minimal change. I mean for a team this young to be competing in a conference championship is remarkable. Let them grow together. Everyone says trade Russell Westbrook, but that simply won’t happen. You won’t get fair market return for a guy who’s a 22 year old all star. Westbrook will be with the Thunder long term and will only continue to grow and understand his role.
The only free agent on the roster is Nazr Mohammed. His role has definitely shrunk so keeping him won’t be a top priority however if he is willing to accept a minimal contract, having a big body like him is never a bad thing. As for Daequan Cook I personally wouldn’t give him the 3 million tender. I’d just renounce his rights. I don’t think 5 ppg is worth the 3 mil tender, plus his shooting has regressed in the post season. You can probably find a comparable player in the open market for cheaper. With Harden and Sefolosha I don’t think he’s worth bringing back unless he wants to come back at less than 3 mil a year.
I have the Thunder’s team needs in order as following:
1) Big with post skill: No doubt defensively the Thunder have a great big man rotation. Ibaka and Perkins are a top defensive duo. Collison as we’ve seen this playoffs is a great high IQ player. Now that they’ve paid him his huge front loaded contract, the rest of Collison’s contract is very modest for the intangibles he brings. Then there’s BJ Mullens and Cole Aldrich two young bigs who are on contract. With that said they lack a true low post player. Perkins doesn’t look much for offense and Ibaka’s offense when not in the form of put backs is more as a jump shooter or quick move hook. The Thunder’s offense would really benefit and become less about one on one isolation if they could get a big who they could run their offense through.
2) Shooting specialist: It’s pretty apparent that the Thunder need a dead eye shooter. Sefolosha brings great defense but can’t hit the outside shot consistently. James Harden is a good shooter but there is zero depth behind him, plus Harden is better suited as a slasher who creates for others. With teams always collapsing on Westbrook and Durant they need a guy who can make teams pay for sending double teams.
3) SF/PF Tweener: The loss of Jeff Green has hurt the offensive versatility of the Thunder. Green’s ability to stretch the defense by making a big man follow him to the perimeter opened things up in the lane. Having a SF/PF tweener allows the Thunder to play small ball without needing to put Durant at PF, plus they can go big and play this guy at the 3 when Durant is resting.
As for draft targets the Thunder hold only the 24th pick in the draft. I would list their big board as this:
1) Klay Thompson: Obviously could use his shooting and could even get a starter role if they continue to use Harden off the bench, highly unlikely he drops to 24 though.
2) Marshon Brooks: As mentioned previously it has become abundantly clear this playoffs that there is no depth on this bench in terms of guys who can score beyond Harden. Brooks scoring ability would definitely make it hard for teams to continually double Westbrook and Durant. If the Thunder went small ball with Westbrook, Harden, Brooks, Durant, and Ibaka they would be incredibly tough to stop in spurts.
3) Tobias Harris: That tweener I was talking about how could develop into a solid role player with his ability to defend and hit open shots.
4) Jordan Hamilton: Again a guy who can stretch the floor with his shooting. Pretty good rebounded as well.
5) Trey Thompkins: Would be a nice addition to the big man rotation with his offensive skill set. A good complement beside Perkins or Ibaka.
6) Justin Harper: Much like Jeff Green a SF/PF tweener. He has inside/outside offensive ability and does give effort on the glass.
7) Jordan Williams: A bit undersized and not overly skilled but he would add depth to the front court. His biggest assets are his strength and strong hands.
The Thunder do hold rights to several players but none are likely to come to OKC. Tibor Pleiss is an interesting kid. Legit 7 footer who is a really good rebounded. Decent skills but limited potential because of athleticism. Still a work in progress and needs to continue to grow as a player. Won’t be coming state side any time soon or possibly ever, but he’s a name to look out for in the future. Paccelis Morlende is already 30 and will never sniff the league. Yotam Haleprin is a guy they drafted in 06 in the Sonics days. They still hold his rights but it’s unlikey he will ever play in the league. He plays for Olympiakos but has struggled to get playing time. While the Thunder could possibly use his shooting, he’s far too slow and below level of an athlete to make an impact in the league. They do still own the rights to Latavious Williams and Robert Vaden in the D-league so they could call them up at any time next year but they aren’t likely to make a difference.
Free Agents the Thunder should target(I have guys like Nick Young, Jamal Crawford, Afflalo, JR Smith out of their price range)
Anthony Parker: I think a modest 2 year deal would be a solid signing. Parker plays good defense, can guard multiple positions and can hit open shots.
Mo Evans: Solid veteran defender who at times can hit the open 3. Would not cost much, although he probably ends up back in Washington.
James Jones: Has shown his value in Miami with his ability to knock down open shots.
Yi Jianlian: Is still extremely soft and underwhelming on defense, but he is still highly skilled. Can still hit the mid range shot with regularity and can handle the ball. If they could get him on a modest contract I think he could work as a backup. Playing beside a strong defensive big like Perkins or Ibaka would help negate some of the defensive deficiencies.
I have them taking Kyle Singler. He would be a good pickup for them. They might want to also take a look at Keith Benson, a center who can score and a decent athlete. Not the biggest guy though but he is one of the best centers in the draft.
I really think the Thunder need veteran leadership. Ideally they need someone who can take some scoring pressure off of Durant and Westbrook. They have enough young guys but they lack the experience and poise that the Mavericks have. They might be able to trade Cole and their first round pick for a decent veteran as they are somewhat in "win now" mode. I think the Mavs fall off some next year, so that would make the Thunder the top team in the West with a healthy Grizzlies team and a regrouped Laker squad being the other top contenders.
If they do move Harden to the bench then they need to find a new sixth man. Then Singler and Shelvin Mack would be the top candidates in the draft.
Kyle Single has been on OKC's radar for long time SF/PF tweener/Jeff Green replacment has him written all over it.
Also if veteran leadership is what the Thunder want then Earl Boykins and/or Michael Redd could be a free agent target.
Post play might be a problem in this free agentcy but if Shaq opts out they could jump on him, other than that they could sign Greg Oden on a sign and trade deal with Portland maybe Samuel Damlembert would be another option. I think Marc Gasol is a bit out of there price range though.
They have most of the starters tied down and with Nick Collinson being extended recently there is limited moves to be made on the bench. I could actually see them perhaps looking to trade out unless they could find the right sort of role player in the draft especially if Sam Presti could get a 2012 first rounder or they might just sell the pick to a team looking to move up and use the money go get a good veteran FA.
One idea might be if Miami from 31 want to move up to get a first rounder on a low contract, a pay out and 31st pick for the Thunder would not be a bad deal. I'd guess they would wait as late as possible as someone might fall on draft night who they could grab at 23 perhaps.
I've Given up trying to guess what the thunder will do, because Sam Presti always comes up with something much more brilliant then i could imagine.
The thunder are more likely to trade up then down.
they will probably look to consolidate at the C position, and look to pick up a combo forward and a swingman.
If they can they will pull off a massive deal that no one expected was availiable,
As my "its so crazy it will happen" trade Tim Duncan will be playing for OKC next year, and san antonio will be drafting top 5 possibly top 3 in a few consecutive drafts