Photo Credits: Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
With the March 25 rapidly approaching, prospective GM’s and franchises will be scrambling to acquire talent for an unequivocal playoff-push to hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy.
Having a wide array of prospective shoppers, sellers in the market will need to establish themselves for the profit to come in — as of now, no man has their doors as open as Sam Presti with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Presti already has churned out profit, netting two trades in the past week for draft capital and project pieces. Now, the shelves are just getting stocked.
Welcome to Sam Presti’s Superstore.
The Thunder hardly ever give pieces away, but in some cases your only choices are to give it to someone else — or throw it out yourself. Meyers Leonard finds himself in that position, either be moved, or be released.
Meyers Leonard is the canned artichoke that has dents plastered all over it. Number one, who willingly wants artichokes, and two, who’s buying a can that looks like it got ran over ten times?
Leonard is a serviceable player having played major minutes in the Heat’s finals run; however, recent off the court issues has placed Leonard in a disconnect with the league.
Leonard made headlines this month after using an anti-Semitic slur while live streaming Call of Duty on Twitch. The 29-year-old was placed away from the team, later receiving a $50,000 fine from the NBA. The big man has made contact with Jewish leaders in the Florida community since the incident.
As of now Leonard has “no association” with the Thunder franchise outside of being on the payroll, instead rehabbing a season-ending shoulder injury in Miami.
Leonard is by all accounts a negative asset to any potential suitor as a result of his previous actions, however a deal could still surface. In a one-for-one setting, Leonard simply will not be traded, but his $9.4M contract ($10.1M team option in 2021-22) makes it possible to integrate the big man in a larger-scale move.
Oklahoma City clearly has a set objective this trading season: stash picks, and enliven the roster with young players. With that groundwork laid out, veterans and expiring players alike are clearly left on the wayside, leaving them up for the taking. Think of the candy aisle right before checkout, you don’t need it, but for a buck, who wouldn’t want a sweet to brighten up your day, or in this case, roster.
Names such as Mike Muscala, Justin Jackson, and Darius Miller line the shelves waiting to be snatched by a penny-pinching squad.
Realistically, any of these three guys can be grabbed for a future second-round pick, nothing more, nothing less.
Mike Muscala headlines the list ironing off a career-high 9.7 points off a mere 18.4 minutes per contest. The 29-year-old provides stretch big qualities for any potential team, this season shooting 37.0% on triples while firing off 5.3 attempts a night.
Given the league’s hallowed stance on stretch-fours and fives as the game traverses to the perimeter, finding a team willing to hand over a second-round pick should be pretty likely.
Justin Jackson hardly was seen as a trade piece up until recently. The 25-year-old has had a hard go at getting any playing time thus far, falling out of the rotation to Mike Muscala, Isaiah Roby, and Kenrich Williams throughout the season. Despite this, a recent report from Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that team(s) placed a call for the forward, making him a real piece entering the deadline.
Jackson’s situation is very similar to Thunder newcomer Svi Mykhailiuk as his future really is unclear. Jackson formerly came out of North Carolina as a premier sharpshooter in his draft class, originally selected 15th. The forward has bounced from Sacramento, to Dallas, now to Oklahoma City having little opportunity, and with his $5.0 Million expiring thrusting him into restricted free agency this summer — he’s teetering with the top 450.
As of Jackson has sunk to a career-low from downtown (29.0%); however with his rotation insecurity, there’s a real excuse as to why. Jackson has placed a pairing of double-digit nights and even two 20-point outings through 28 games, yet he always finds himself back on garbage duty right after — that’s the draw.
A team looking for Jackson sees a chance to revitalize his career, make his role apparent, and reap the benefits. Right now, Jackson is nowhere close to making a large figures this offseason, meaning for a contender, trading for him now allows for matching or signing him to a small figure (in NBA standards) for the future. Rosters need to be decked 1-through-15, on a minimum deal, Jackson does that — and for some, that may be worth a future second.
Darius Miller is your simple bag of chips. Miller, 30, serves as a mentor off the bench with Oklahoma City, but his $7 Million expiring coupled with a 40.7% accuracy from downtown makes him a sneaky add-on to a deal. Miller sources a simple catch-and-shoot game that would translate over to any roster in the league. A move for Miller likely is motivated by his money off the books for free agency, with his veteran services as a bonus.
Furthermore backing the Thunder’s move to build upon the future, older assets will be moved if the oppurtunity arises.
With George Hill and Al Horford, both respective members provide multiple facets of play to prospective teams making them far more than a measly dollar. On a typical contender, Hill and Horford would, for the most part, be off limits, but due to the Thunder’s current state — they’re part of a fire sale.
Neither Hill or Horford are expiring options, so their is no rush to dish them out this week for little-to-no value. On that same token, Presti would want them out sooner rather than later, thus snagging either or two comes at a discounted rate. Think a high second-round selection, maybe two, or a potential prospect to mold with.
In regards to Hill, it has been heavily reported that the guard is tied to some sort of bidding war amongst teams, or at bare minimum — garnering interest.
At 34, Hill provides an immediate source of offense with, or without, the ball in his hands. Before suffering a thumb injury in late-January, the combo-guard placed numbers of 11.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 13-games with the team. Hill leads the Thunder in catch-and-shoot percentages from distance (47.5%) while acting as a penetration in Mark Daigneault’s pace-and-space offense.
Hill is owed $9.5 Million for this season, but his second-year expiring only guarantees $1.27 Million, meaning he’s a viable option to contribute this season, and release for more room in the offseason.
We know that Hill initially from the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-February; however it was learned this week that the Los Angeles Clippers have inquired on the guard as well. That raises the question: how many more teams are interested?
As a barrage of calls infiltrate Sam Presti’s voicemail for Hill, leveraging from Presti could help levy a deal that reels in a quality pick, or maybe even a young asset (likely needs OKC the send out a pick) for a larger move.
Al Horford is a much different case than all other Thunder options, and likely the entire league. That shouldn’t prevent the big man from seeing some murmurs.
Horford has one of the few contracts in the NBA on par with the infamous 2016 free agency deals (the one where Timofey Mosgov made $64 Million over four years.) Horford, age 34, sits upon the second-year of a four year, $109 Million contract inked with the Philadelphia 76ers, a pact set to pay Horford until age 36. One year down, Big Al is still owned $81 Million over the next three seasons ($27 Million avg.,) meaning any team interested needs some deep pockets — and major trust in the big man.
Horford has sufficed Oklahoma City’s needs at the five, nailing out 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 26.0 minutes. Horford works as a standard playoff center, one that keeps their head down on the glass sets screens, and fits right into the modern NBA for threes (37.4% 3pt FG.)
Given that 76ers GM had to attach sweeteners in Theo Maledon, a 2025 first-round pick, and rights to Vasilije Micic (euroleague star; no plans of coming over) to even get rid of Horford in the first place, but it shouldn’t be like that in Presti’s case.
A deal moving out Horford in reality may stash you a protected second, it also could cost you a protected second — at this stage, it’s hard to gauge.
The Boston Celtics remain as the only clear trade partner for Horford as his former team has a $28.5 Million trade exception stemming from a Gordon Hayward trade during the offseason. Aligning the numbers seize to be a major issue in this scenario, and with the Celtics in desperate need of frontcourt minutes, Horford makes sense if alternative options (Drummond, Collins, Cousins) fall out.
Under Head Coach Mark Daigneault, the Thunder roster has seen an abundance of players break-out over the course of the season — playoff teams are taking notice. Of these break-out players, not all will be on the table, if any. A potential trade for an up-and-comer will cost you a pretty penny, and even with that, others may not have enough.
Think of a PlayStation 5 on release day. Your local GameStop is flooded with buyers wrapping around the building, aspiring to secure their gaming setup in the long-term, or in other cases, resell as the demand skyrockets.
Kenrich Williams takes the cake for the Thunder’s biggest prize, as his combination of size, versatility, and long-term flexibility make him an intriguing option.
Williams originally wound up in Bricktown as a throw-in off a four-team mega deal that saw Steven Adams swap hands to New Orleans. Williams’ three-year $6 Million contract ($2 Million guaranteed) seemed like a clear signal he’d be a preseason cut, but impressive play kept him on the roster and now — every team should want a stake at him.
His contract nears top of the league status considering he’ll be locked up until the 2022-23 season, making close to the minimum all throughout. True contenders need pieces like Kenrich, a bank-for-your-buck that fits near anywhere in the rotation, and gives off top-of-the-line defense.
As of now, Williams boasts averages of 6.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Those statlines may seem insignificant, but the wing provides much more than numbers on a scorecard.
As aforementioned in Friday’s article, Williams accounts for the Thunder’s top seven three-man lineups in net rating (100 min. requirement,) tooling in at the two through four positions across those lineups. He does this through a variety of ways: defensively, he plays free safety, on offense, you can’t give him any space.
Williams has carved out a real 3-and-D role amongst the Thunder roster, heaping in 41.7% of triples, and spurring on 1.7 deflections, no one should feel safe matched up with Kenrich.
Executives and coaches alike post 3-and-D players to an almost godly status in the league, everybody wants one, but not everyone has one. On the off chance a 3-and-D player is on the market — you better empty your pockets. Robert Covington headlines recent wings of this stature to be moved, the return? two first-round picks.
Kenrich Williams by no means has reached Robert Covington levels yet, but his overall progression over this season should indicate he’s not far off.
When the Thunder’s roster met it’s low-point in February, Williams stepped up in major fashion for the team. The wing saw all his stats reach monthly highs off 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals on 26.0 minutes a game, leaving no room to push him out the rotation. Of note in this month: Williams shot a blazing 46.7% from downtown on 1.9 attempts a game. Now in March, he’s upped his point average again with 10.7 points.
Teams will most certainty try to send low-ball offers Presti’s way before Williams emerges — but I highly doubt they’d hear much more than a phone slamming on the other end.
A set value on Williams is hard to weigh given his absurd contract and untapped potential. Something that can be noted though is Presti has all the leverage. Unlike the other names in the market, Williams has a real future in Oklahoma City if he’s never moved, easily becoming a core veteran in their ongoing rebuild.
Offers on Williams almost need to include a set of second-round picks, or a future first to be tabled, but his small deal makes rookie-scale players in the equation.
Dream players in this category appear in Talen Horton-Tucker (Lakers), Romeo Langford (Celtics), and Paul Reed (76ers.)
A straight one-for-one offer amongst these names work out perfectly money-wise, barring Paul Reed is upgraded to a standard contract, but Oklahoma City may actually need hints of sweeteners.
Out of this list, acquiring Paul Reed really shouldn’t drain any extra assets from Presti as he rare cracks the rotation, but if it comes down to it for a potential-filled four, it’d make sense.
For guys like Talen Horton-Tucker and Romeo Langford, they hold a good amount of trade value, while also being one of very few developing pieces on their teams, or at least in Horton-Tucker’s case. Acquiring either of these players may not even be obtainable with just Williams, but digging into their bucket of 16 second-round picks you could fit the right price.
Ultimately, Williams would be a formidable piece to any contender for three seasons. So, if a contender is willing to dish out a long-term prospect or pick(s) for a budget beast with no strings attached — do not be shocked. On that same note, if nothing worthwhile circulates — don’t be upset if Presti keeps K-Will for the long haul.
Sam Presti’s Superstore closes at 3 p.m. ET, March 25. Who’s next in line?