3 players OKC Thunder should target with $10.9 million tax exemption from Melo trade

Spurs GM, R.C. Buford talks to OKC Thunder GM, Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Spurs GM, R.C. Buford talks to OKC Thunder GM, Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder target Tony Snell
Milwaukee, WI – APRIL 26: Former President of the United States of America Bill Clinton shakes hands with Tony Snell #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks prior to Game Six of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics on April 26, 2018 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. : Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Tony Snell

The Milwaukee Bucks have some contractual issues moving forward and are likely to move one of Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton or Tony Snell. They are hardcapped this season and made some interesting moves this free agency, signing Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez. While Lopez is only on a one-year deal, Ilyasova’s multi-year deal is a head scratcher.

Oklahoma City need shooting badly. Middleton emerged as a strong  secondary scoring force beside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brogdon is a do it all guard. This leaves Snell. He averaged 6.9 points on 43.5 percent shooting and 40.3 percent from three last season and is a low use player effective on catch and shoot opportunities (40.1 3-PT). Additiionally, Snell is a solid defender, using his athletic tools to keep shooting guards and smaller forwards in front of him.

In his best game last season, Snell torched the Chicago Bulls for 17 points (6-6 from the field, 4-4 3-PT, 1-2 Free Throws) in Milwaukee’s 118-105 win.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks of Snell’s game is his inability to contribute in multiple facets of the game. He averaged 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks in 27.4 minutes per game last year. At 6’7, 200 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, these are disappointing numbers. While being a sound one on one defender, he tends to steer clear of the paint and doesn’t attack the glass. Snell’s only legitimate skill is to score the rock in either spot-up situations or opportunistic drives.

Value in playing both first and second units

Being a low usage player, Snell fits what Oklahoma City needs – a spot-up three point shooter who doesn’t hesitate to shoot the ball. His ability to play steady defense will allow OKC to interchange him between the first and second units. Despite being limited in other facets of his game, Westbrook and Paul will command a lot of attention, providing him with numerous open looks.

Snell essentially replaces Alex Abrines’ role or can play him along side Abrines’ if they are able to keep him. While the defensive side of the ball remains a huge question mark (the Spaniards glaring weaknesses and Snell’s steady but not great defensive acumen), the ability to play both players spreads the floor. If both can co-exist without excessively bleeding on the defensive end, Westbrook, PG13 and Schroder will have oodles of space to attack the lane to either score at the rim or kick to an open shooter. The possibilities here are tantalizing.

Two big questions remain – what do Milwaukee want in return and are OKC willing to take on Snells remaining $23 million over the next two seasons. Oklahoma City can absorb his contract this season without a cap hit but next season may be an issue. However, Snell could be moved as a trade piece since the cap will rise and his deal is expiring. His skillset though answers what the OKC Thunder need to truly compete this season.