Approaching 24 hours removed from Thursday’s historic trade-deadline, Oklahoma City’s recent acquisitions Tony Bradley and Austin Rivers have yet to report to the team.
Mark Daigneault addressed in his Friday presser that both Tony Bradley and Austin Rivers — have reported to the franchise. “Tony Bradley nor Austin Rivers have reported yet, later adding, “Sam [Presti] and their representation are working through next steps, so there’s not a lot of clarity yet on what that’s going to look like.”
Bradley and Rivers joined the Thunder roster midday Thursday, in a three-team move that sent George Hill to Philadelphia, for a return of Bradley, Rivers, and two future second-round picks.
Players reporting absent is no new trend for Sam Presti and the Thunder. Just this season, forward Trevor Ariza never reported to the Thunder franchise, manning essentially an unused roster spot up until he was shipped out to Miami this month. Oklahoma City’s return for Ariza — another wasted spot in Meyers Leonard. Leonard’s fate with the Thunder was imminent from day one — being noted in his trade press release he would not be with the organization. Presti cut ends with Leonard immediately after Thursday’s deadline — but with Bradley and Rivers at a standstill with the franchise — Oklahoma City as of right now, have two more empty roster spots.
What we do know from current discussions is that both parties will come out of discussions with a sense of mutual respect for one another. Transparency has been something Presti and the Thunder organization have been praised for since day one, in regards to how Bradley and Rivers’ situations are handled — I expect the same level of candidness.
Austin Rivers fits the bill as a potential buyout candidate. Rivers, 28, is tied to a 3-year deal worth $9.9 million, the kicker, he’s not guaranteed past this season. A buyout of River’s burns a $3.5 million hole in the Thunder’s pocket, but with their sights set on getting young and opening roster spots, it’d be understandable for Rivers to be cast into the open market.
When it comes to Tony Bradley, the Thunder should want him reporting immediately. Bradley blends right into Oklahoma City’s roster — he’s only 23. Bradley brings much needed youth at the center position, and an opportunity to hone his skills. Bradley has been lodged into third-string duties for his three seasons with Utah and Philadelphia, it may very well be the same in Oklahoma City.
Despite posting 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds with the 76ers this season, Bradley’s 14.4 minute load restrained the big in tallying major statlines. This becomes pivotal when you take into account Bradley is on his final year of his rookie contract.
If any holdups from Bradley’s camp emerge, it may root in bigs Al Horford and Moses Brown. Horford demands upwards of 25 minutes a night when played, and with the recent emergence of Moses Brown — he’s encroaching that minute mark as well. Given that Horford, Brown, and Bradley would be at the five 99-percent of the time, the logical pecking order would spot Bradley in a similar role to that of his previous spots.
Bradley has shown specks of potential, racking up a season-best 18 point, 11 rebound game in his final game with Philadelphia, so it perfectly reasonable for him to want a larger role on another franchise.
In a situation where Tony Bradley wants out — Presti would likely comply. On the flipside though, if Bradley is content with playing second and even third fiddle at times, he’ll be in a Thunder jersey by next week.
When it comes to reporting to teams, it can typically take a day or two to let things settle, so ultimately, this may all end up being unnecessary noise. Though, as of now, the future between the Thunder with Tony Bradley and Austin Rivers is unclear, but just know — both parties will come out happy.