The Oklahoma City Thunder have one pick in the first round at No. 28 but there is a chance they may try and move up to take one of the most coveted players in this draft.
Bradley Beal of Florida – who is considered the No. 2 prospect in the draft by 70 percent of GMs – is on Oklahoma City’s radar.
Beal told ESPN/ESPN.com Wednesday that Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti told him during an interview in Chicago that he was interested in trying to move up to draft him. The Thunder’s first-round pick currently isn’t until No. 28.
“He told me he was going to decide what they’re going to do and considered getting up there,” said Beal.
The Charlotte Bobcats have been looking to move the No. 2 pick in the draft and that is how far OKC would have to move up to select Beal. Beal is definitely not falling past the Washington Wizards at No. 3.
“I’ve heard it a lot,” Beal said of the Thunder scenario. “It’s really interesting. I would love to play with Kevin Durant. (Russell) Westbrook, great point guard. Just the whole team. It’s young, I would love to play with a young team. They play fast. I’d love to get up and down, shoot the ball. Overall, whatever situation I Iand in I’ll be happy.”
The Thunder would have to give up James Harden to move up to the No. 2 pick. There were reports a few weeks ago that the Bobcats had offered the No. 2 pick to OKC for Harden.
Harden was obviously a huge part of the Thunder’s run to the NBA Finals this past season. Harden did struggle quite a bit in the Finals against the Heat and the Thunder are going to have a tough time keeping both Harden and Serge Ibaka down the road without dipping into the luxury tax.
Harden is up for an extension starting July 1 and while a deal isn’t done yet, Harden felt that he and the Thunder would come to an agreement.
Still, Presti has seriously considered finding a way to get to Beal. A number of sources said that Presti spent three days in Gainesville during the lockout watching the Gators practice, a fact that Beal confirmed Wednesday.
A source also said that Florida coach Billy Donovan met with Presti in Dallas when he took his two nephews to the Oklahoma City-Dallas first-round playoff series in May. Presti and Donovan have had multiple conversations on the phone about Beal, as well.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation said, “Oklahoma City exhausted every opportunity on campus to find out everything they could find out about Beal. They’ve done everything they can.”
The Thunder model is all about making great draft choices, developing that talent and creating a culture of winning in Oklahoma City.
Harden was as much a part of that culture as anyone in OKC but continuing that model might mean dealing Harden instead of paying him for a player that could blossom into a similar player.
The Thunder are already locked in to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Trying to keep a third All-Star who needs the ball to be productive might not be the best idea.
Everyone in Thunder camp loves Harden and they should. But the NBA is a business and the right business decision here might be Beal.