Don’t be mislead by the title – the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be just fine without Hasheem Thabeet – but more importantly, they have received yet another trade exception and opened up a roster spot. THAT is what the title means – what will the Thunder do with this spot and exception?
Thabeet was a solid contributor. He played very rarely, but was a professional. He was always engaged in the games, lending support and cheering the Thunder team on. He was well liked, a great character of the game – but he was the least talented big man on the Thunder roster and this made him expendable.
The Oklahoma City Thunder love flexibility – they love it in their lineups, in their roster and in their salary cap. This latest move works in all three areas. Now, they are free to find some small ball minutes at the center spot for Mitch McGary or Nick Collison or Serge Ibaka. They also have a trade exception of $1.3mil to use as they wish (to spend or as a trade chip) and they only have 14 guaranteed contracts on their roster meaning they are able to add someone throughout the year if need be.
While it doesn’t seem like groundbreaking news, it is a solid little side move by Sam Presti and co. Flexibility means a lot in this business – and with contract negotiations with Reggie Jackson continuing, it can’t hurt. It also means that if the right deal comes along, the Thunder could look at a 2 for 1 trade with little impact. Not saying that anything is going to happen or is even in the works – but the opportunity is there.
Thabeet was a #2 overall pick and has plenty of talent. Unfortunately, height is his biggest strength and modern day basketball is relying less and less on 7 foot guys in the middle – making Thabeet a luxury on the end of the bench that the Thunder could no longer afford (or didn’t want to afford).
The Philadelphia 76ers also sent a second round pick in the deal, but it is so highly protected and subject to numerous different scenarios, that it is unlikely to ever find it’s way to OKC. The Thunder have a big man stashed away in Europe – Tibor Pleiss who is looking to come across in the next year or two, so moving Thabeet might allow that to happen (although one strongly suggests next season will be when that move is made).
For the most part though, it looks as if the Thunder just wanted to shed the spot and free themselves up a little. Who knows how the season is going to pan out – right? With McGary looking far more advanced during his summer league stint than many thought, he could see regular burn in his rookie year.
Either way, thanks for the memories Thabeet – you will be missed.