Photo Credits: Rohan Ali/Los Angeles Lakers
Sitting under 48 hours before the NBA’s trade deadline, no real movement has occurred in the market — that is set to change.
With a plethora of buyers looking to dethrone the reigning champion Lakers for their taste of a Larry O’ Brien trophy, there will be a lot of movement. Oklahoma City falls right in the middle of discussions.
As outlined in yesterday’s article, Sam Presti wields around six-to-seven guys actively being pursued, or actively being thrown into the trading conversation. The common consensus (deservingly) is that Presti will send off a chunk of these names to contenders for picks and assets down the road — but there’s another option.
Holding the keys to 19 first-round and 16 second-round selections until 2027, Oklahoma City sits atop a gold mine of assets — arguably the biggest vein in the league.
With that, there’s no doubt they could make a splash if Presti chooses so, let’s check out some names on the market.
Marvin Bagley III
Regular Season Stats: 14.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 0.8 BPG
Marvin Bagley has been in hijinx with the Kings for the greater portion of the season after his father sent a tweet asking his son to be shipped out of Sacramento. Tension has seemingly salted away since that early January request, but their still is a strong belief Bagley is on the trade block.
With Sacramento loaded in the frontcourt, minutes have been tight to allocate when everyone is healthy — and with Bagley nearing his major payday in the 2022 offseason, Monte McNair may part ways with the big.
Bagley just came off his birthday week, blowing out the candles to age 23. Plagued by injuries throughout his first three seasons in the league, there is still hope he can develop into a core piece for a contender.
Sacramento currently sets the bar on Bagley at a first-round pick, to which caliber is unknown. Oklahoma City could bring in Bagley with relative ease using a pick(s) and an expiring in Darius Miller to match Bagley’s $8.9 Million price tag.
In the now, Bagley seems like a perfect project to mold flashing offensive stardom around the basket, and even on the perimeter on 35.7% shooting. Looking at the roster moving forward however, Bagley would further constrict players in Darius Bazley and Isaiah Roby for the future, likely needing to play small-ball five for a serious role in the line-up.
Bagley at his current asking price is worth a look, but I don’t see Presti placing much interest.
Regular Season Stats: 18.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG
This is not the first time John Collins has been brought up in a potential Thunder move, and it may not be the last watching how these next 48 hours pan out.
Collins may be the hottest frontcourt commodity on the trade block as of now, meaning that bringing on the 23-year-old will likely surface from a bidding war.
Atlanta has been in clear need of an extra ball-handler all year, and with inklings to Lonzo Ball and the Celtics (who have Marcus Smart,) a guard might need to be on the table.
Of those the Thunder have, it’s hard to picture any long-term options like Theo Maledon or Ty Jerome would be involved, and with George Hill being a rental, Oklahoma City would have to overpay.
The marketed price of John Collins has leveled to a young asset and a first-round pick according to most sources, the Thunder most definitely can do this.
Taking a page from February’s article on Collins, it’s highly unlikely that Oklahoma City would even consider moving away one of their top three picks in this upcoming draft, but a deal involving the Warriors top-20 protected first should be on the table. That pick likely conveys to Minnesota’s 2nd round selection (via the D’Angelo Russell trade,) which should bring in a top 35 pick. From then on future draft picks such as Philidelphia’s 2025 first-round pick (protected 1-6 in 2025, 1-4 in 2026, and 1-4 in 2027), their own future selections, or major enigmas in future Rockets or Clippers picks may be added to enhance the offer.
Off the bat you instantly throw Atlanta a bone with Golden State’s pick (almost certainly drops to MIN at this point), and a potential lottery pick in a jab way down the line. The downside to this is, Atlanta wants assets now, but also they have a lot of rookie-scale contracts to pay in the coming seasons — a later pick provides much needed breathing room.
On top of all this, a player of Kenrich Williams’ stature may also need to be sprinkled into the recipe for consideration. Williams’ 3-year/ $6 Million contract fits exactly what the Hawks are looking for and with 3-and-D players always needed, this might be exactly what they need.
This is a likely pipe-dream as any current star or promising guard that flies their way may be much more appetizing, but it’s work a look.
Collins is asking for an $100 Million contract at bare minimum for his upcoming free agency, and if the Thunder open their wallet, he’s a great big for the future. Collins can play the four or five at a high level, and with elite athleticism and deep-range shooting, there’s no doubt he’d fare well with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. In regards to forwards in Bazley, Roby, and Pokusevski, their roles would slip, but with Collins’ consistency at the five, it shouldn’t create pandemonium.
John Collins is a perfect match for the Thunder, but a hefty asking price paired with a big price tag in free agency makes him an unlikely option.
Regular Season Stats: 8.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.3 APG
Despite having a paltry 45 career-games under Talen Horton-Tucker’s belt the sophomore ranks as one of the most sought after rebuilding pieces in this years market.
The 20-year-old has had minimal opportunity to net minutes throughout his two years slipping in the depth chart to names in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Wesley Matthews among others. Horton-Tucker has played a role similar to Kenrich Williams in previous months, filling in when minutes are available, and clocking out with fans asking “how does he not play more?”
Horton-Tucker appeared on the league-wide radar in the shortened preseason averaging 21.0 points on 54.7% shooting while sticking 6.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists to his resume. As aforementioned, Horton-Tucker hasn’t seen much time, but recent injuries to stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis lodge him to the upper-echelon of scoring options.
Through nine games in March, Horton-Tucker has inflated his averages to 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on just 22.1 minutes. There is no question he can score, and with a 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame, he looks set to become the next linebacker body amongst names like Lu Dort.
Most mock trades involving the 20-year-old project low-ball offers, Lakers get a decent veteran, returning team gets THT and in even some cases — draft compensation. Those rumors are misguided at best.
For the Lakers Horton-Tucker is your cream-of-the-crop topper for a potential package for an All-Star caliber player, obviously, guys in Montrezl Harrell would be out the door too. In a straight one-for-one, Los Angeles may just stick with the sophomore, or post a high price.
With Sam Presti running the show, you can never rule out the Thunder sneaking into a three-team trade. In a projected trade, Oklahoma City would need to ship out Kenrich Williams to Los Angeles (or whatever team) for longevity at the 2-4 positions while also tacking on a second-round pick and salary fillers if necessary.
Kenrich and a second may be a hefty payout, but keep in mind Horton-Tucker turned 20 four-months ago and he has already shown tracing of becoming a legitimate piece to build with.
A deal for Horton-Tucker may be off the table regardless as Los Angeles could easily garner hot commodities in the buyout market (if any substantiate) and call it a day. But in a hypothetical where he does get moved (and Oklahoma City has enough to trade for him,) you need to empty out your wallet. Horton-Tucker is in a unique contract where he will already hit restricted free-agency at the end of this season, and with teams willing to dish out picks just for the rights to match any deal, just imagine what kind of numbers he will be pulling from prospective teams.
Players who just missed the cut: Lonzo Ball, Lauri Markannen, Paul Reed