Presumption OKC Thunder wing Andre Roberson is an automatic trade target is far fetched

OKC Thunder Guard Andre Roberson (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder Guard Andre Roberson (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A recent article presumed OKC Thunder defensive specialist Andre Roberson will automatically be among Sam Presti’s trades targets. I’m not compelled to believe that’s a given for a number of reasons.

With the OKC Thunder parting ways with their superstars Russell Westbrook and Paul George, General Manager Sam Presti is focused on his reposition and replenish era. With those exits coupled with Jerami Grant being traded to the Nuggets, many predict a teardown where any veteran player will be jettisoned elsewhere.

For some members, on this iteration of the Thunder, it makes logical sense. For example, Danilo Gallinari has already stated his primary focus in next summers free agency will be to land on a title bound team. Given Gallo is in a contract year combining his desires with an expiring contract means Presti will want to capitalize on getting value back for the Italian. Why let him reach walk for nothing?

It’s somewhat unfortunate that’s the case since Gallinari is (in my opinion) highly underrated in terms of what he can do offensively on the court. He belongs in a category of big men who can are extremely versatile offensively and while his defensive prowess may not match his offense he’s not a player you can’t keep on the court.

Likewise, retaining Chris Paul also is a short term solution. This is the combination of Paul wanting to play for a contender – which the OKC Thunder won’t be for several years again.  And the other obvious reason is there is no need to have a player on the roster who’ll be earning $38,506,482 this season, $41,358,814 in 2020-21 and $44,211,146 in 2021-22. Especially a player on the backside of his career. Although Paul is still a quality point guard – teams in rebuilding or as Presti calls it the R and R mode simply don’t need to extend those types of contracts. It’s counterproductive to the process.

A few other players who could be in the mix are Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder. In terms of Adams, it may be (similar to Roberson) more of a wait and see situation. He’ll need to rebound this year after (for him) a substandard campaign last year. That and his contract make him a difficult prospect to move. Adams is set to earn $25,842,697 this season and $27,528,090 in 2020-21. Can he take another leap this year with the club and are the Thunder willing to pay over $25 million each of the next two seasons to retain Adams who at 26 hasn’t yet hit his prime.

Schroder might be on the block depending on assets the Thunder can get for him and whether he can take another leap this season. The German needs to show he can run the reserve unit efficiently this season. Like Adams and Gallo, a team requiring depth at the point in the postseason may step up at the trade deadline. He’s set to earn $15.5 million in each of the next two seasons so it might be more likely he gets moved a year from now on an expiring contract.

As for Andre Roberson, some pundits assume he’s automatically been earmarked as one of the OKC Thunder players on the move. Writer Tristan Elliott of Sportskeeda is among those who believe the OKC Thunder will be seeking to rid themselves of any larger contracts. His article focuses on Andre Roberson and the presumption the Thunder will definitely trade him this season. Elliot’s reasoning is tied to the belief Roberson doesn’t fit the long term plans of OKC.

"Sam Presti has since hinted that Roberson will be back on the court for opening night, although the shooting guard’s future in Oklahoma City seems doomed following the departures of George and Westbrook. Roberson’s unique skill set proved to be an excellent fit when the Thunder were competing, although, with the team now in rebuild mode, they no longer require the luxury of having one of the NBA’s best lockdown defenders."

Although Elliot might be accurate and Roberson could end up traded, I’m not sure it’s an automatic deal the Thunder should pull. First, let’s see ARob on the court this season. He’s been off the hardwood competitively since January of 2018. Prior to his injury, he was debatably a top-five defender in the NBA.

In terms of the negatives which get heaped upon Roberson is his lack of offense, specifically his shooting from the charity stripe and the perimeter. However, there are only a handful of players in the Association with his defensive chops. Roberson is in the final year of his contract so he’ll be a free agent at summer’s end. Therefore, how he plays this season will dictate next summer’s contract.

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Where Elliot could be right is a playoff team who need extra defense might be willing to step up with a package hard for Presti to resist. On the other hand, given how loyal Roberson is to OKC it wouldn’t be surprising if he accepted an economical deal to remain with the Thunder.

One notable will be whether the Thunder tries to trade Steven Adams. In the event that occurs, I think it becomes more likely the franchise would want to retain Roberson to assume the leadership responsibilities of a young squad. The other caveat will be how ARob and Gilgeous-Alexander fit. If the youngster develops chemistry with Roberson it could offer yet another reason to keep him in the fold.

Thinking back to the period Nick Collison was with the then young Westbrook and Kevin Durant he punctuated how valuable a veteran voice and role model is in team development. Roberson knows first hand what the team culture and identity is and would fit the type of leadership role Presti would desire moving forward.

dark. Next. Benefit of healthy Roberson to rebuilding Thunder is invaluable

We’ll keep an eye on the roster and trade targets moving forward, but let’s just say I’m not as convinced ARob will be departing Oklahoma City and time soon.