Oklahoma City’s expectations leading into Thursday’s trade deadline were colossal. With a stockpile of veteran pieces up for trade, it seemed like the inevitable Sam Presti would run the board on moves — it was anything but that.
The Thunder managed to complete one deal Thursday, sending George Hill out to Philadelphia, in a three-team deal that saw Oklahoma City collect Tony Bradley, Austin Rivers, and Philadelphia’s second-round selection in 2025 and 2026 — pretty good haul considering Victor Olapdio corralled Houston Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a 2022 lottery-protected swap.
Although Hill marked Oklahoma City’s only trade of the day (first since the 2016-17 deadline,) the Thunder still tacked on two in-season trades for Svi Mykhailiuk, Meyers Leonard, and two seconds at the expenses of Hamidou Diallo, and Trevor Ariza.
As the roster stands now their is a fair bit of uncertainty from an outsiders perspective. The Thunder have veterans in Mike Muscala, Darius Miller, and Justin Jackson who lack a true spot in the rotation, while manning a lopsided roster with four centers at hand. Above all of this though — they have too many players.
League guidelines detail that rosters can contain a maximum of 15 players on full-scale contracts, and two two-way players during the season — as it stands now, Oklahoma City has 16 full-scale contracts.
Sam Presti won’t have a difficult decision in chipping the roster down to 15. Center Meyers Leonard should be waived in the coming days as Oklahoma City made sure to announce he would not be part of the organization — dating back to the team’s press release. Leonard will down the Thunder $9.4 million if he’s released, but a waive-and-stretch can also be used to pay the salary out in time.
Moses Brown’s emergence makes it difficult to think Presti wouldn’t be done quite yet, needing another roster opening for the big man. Brown has outplayed his two-way deal, averaging 11.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks since returning from the Orlando bubble in early March. The 21-year-old has invigorated the center position for the Thunder, and a real debate has been tossed as to if he’s the man of the future. Under a one-year two-way contract, Brown simply cannot, but an upgraded contract would could change that in a heartbeat.
In efforts to supply Brown of his (much deserved) spot, Oklahoma City would need to drain a veteran of value. Mike Muscala seemed like a surefire trade piece entering today, but a lack of a market left him still with the Thunder. Muscala provides a key source of three-point shooting above 37 percent through the year, and with a $2.1 million expiring, Presti could signal him off as a parting gift — giving the 29-year-old an opportunity with a contender.
Austin Rivers may not play for the Thunder now that Jerome and Maledon have secured real minutes, but their is still value in retaining him. Rivers is on year one-of-three in a deal worth $9.9 million (last two seasons non-guaranteed.) The 28-year-old will be stuck in Oklahoma City until said otherwise, but with Shai out long-term, he may be able to build his value enough for an offseason deal.
Darius Miller is in a similar spot to that of Muscala. Miller hardly sees the floor for the Thunder, and with a $7 million expiring, the 30-year-old could also be cut loose. Miller provides sharpshooting to prospective teams in the buyout market, shooting 40.7 percent from three on the year.
Oklahoma City’s movement in the trade market was at some degrees, a letdown — but given the circumstances, Presti is nowhere close to finished.