Reevaluating if big swing trades by OKC Thunder and Raptors were worth the risk

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook OKC Thunder (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

How viable is the big swing moving forward?

There are palpable benefits from the solo campaign of Leonard which will still be felt long term particularly if Ujiri intends to retain Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby.

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The latter a player everyone seems to forget missed the entire postseason due to a ruptured appendix the night before the postseason began. Even though OG didn’t get on the playoff court this trio has learned HOW to win a title and how a true superstar functions.

Those are benefits that can only happen via experience. The other notable is each of Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka are in their final contract year.

Depending on where the Raptors sit at the deadline don’t be surprised if he either tries to offload one of these players to nab picks or if the team overachieves and looks to re-up for the defense of their title.

As for the OKC Thunder, a small market only has so many options. The two most logical are via building through the draft or trades. Oklahoma City ranks among the best front offices and has a stellar reputation in terms of how they treat stars and all their players. Still, they aren’t going to be among the teams who vie for top tier free agents, or at least if they are it will be the exception, not the rule.

Moving forward, the players have shown they are the power brokers and these risk-reward moves may not be as commonplace in the future.

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That said, with a title in hand for the Raptors and the Thunder on their way to getting out from under long term repeater luxury tax payments with 15 first round draft picks (with more to come?) for their rebuild phase says those big swings were worth the risk.