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Rumor mill pairs Thunder next to Markannen, Dinwiddie, others nearing free agency

With NBA free agency kicking off at 5 pm CST on Monday, turnover throughout the league is to be expected. Wielding a surplus of $30 million in cap space, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been tagged a dark horse in bringing on free agent talent.

Here is the latest buzz as to who Oklahoma City may be chasing:

Thunder showing interest in Lauri Markannen?

When Oklahoma City was in the midst of their Westbrook-George coalition, the primary void that needed to be addressed rested at the power forward position. During this two-year patch, Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markannen was seen as the ideal fit alongside the Thunder’s current duo — but a deal never came to fruition. Two years removed from the smoke, Sam Presti will once again have the shot at acquiring Markannen.

As first reported by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the Chicago Bulls are now open to the idea of dealing Lauri Markannen in a sign-and-trade deal. Of those interested in the 24-year-old: the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Markannen has fallen out of grace within Chicago as the once “next big thing” next to Zach LaVine has now been fending off trade murmurs for upwards of a year. Despite Markannen’s recent regression amongst most, the 24-year-old just came off of averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.

Markannen showed signs of being a knockdown shooter with a sneaky slashing ability in his rookie season, but abrasion between Jim Boylen and even Billy Donovan has pushed him into a more limited shooting role, recently shooting 40.2% from distance on 5.8 attempts per game.

Thunder in the market for Spencer Dinwiddie?

As aforementioned earlier, the Thunder have a large plate at the table with over $30 million in cap space this free agency period. With that said, there’s speculation they may be looking to flip player’s deals for a quick buck, following a league-administered lay period, of course.

The biggest name to come from these roots sprout from Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. As first reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, there is a rumor swirling around that Oklahoma City is “prepared” to offer Dinwiddie a two-year deal worth $40 million. Though, the latest reports suggest that there’s little momentum between both parties in this deal.

Dinwiddie, age 28, would provide Oklahoma City another proven point guard on the roster, but the discrepancies in both sides’ timeline and an already crammed backcourt for the Thunder creates a clear divide. If signed, Dinwiddie becomes an immediate hot commodity around the league. Knowing Sam Presti, he’ll utilize Dinwiddie in a deal that brings in, you guessed it — draft capital.

Devonte’ Graham on the menu?

Just like Spencer Dinwiddie, a hefty guard market with a depleted number of teams capable of compensation creates opportunities more for a team like the Thunder to strike.

Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham is caught in a situation similar to Spencer Dinwiddie, and as Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported, Oklahoma City has shown interest in the guard.

Graham, age 26, is a restricted agent meaning the Charlotte Hornets may match any potential offers, though at some point the price may be too overbearing. With recent first-round pick James Bouknight joining the Hornets, it appears a duo between LaMelo Ball and Bouknight is forming. Behind the two youngsters, Terry Rozier provides a sturdy foundation on, or off, the bench.

If Oklahoma City reaches an agreement with Graham, a planned period of a Graham and Gilgeous-Alexander duo may be in the plans, but once the price is right — Presti would pull that trigger.

Graham posted averages of 14.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in his third-year campaign with the Hornets.

Thunder taking a chance at Zach Collins?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have become notorious league-wide for taking chances on so-called “projects”, and turning them into valuable assets. Most of the time, these ventures result in said players being offloaded via trade, but this case could be much different.

As reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Thunder have supposedly stuck their in the hat for power forward Zach Collins.

Collins, age 23, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Portland Trail Blazers making him an unrestricted free agent. The former No. 10 Pick has been battling injuries for the majority of his career placing a mere 11 appearances in the last two seasons. In this span, Collins underwent two foot-related surgeries and went under surgery for a torn labrum.

Collins has major risk attached to himself but with a fairly low asking price (given his draft position), Oklahoma City could take a flyer on him for frontcourt help.

Over his three years of play, Collins has averaged 5.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in 154 appearances.

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