OKC Thunder: Presti mic drop trade deadline deal for a Southwest player

OKC Thunder trade deadline: Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots over Steven Adams of the Thunder. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder trade deadline: Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots over Steven Adams of the Thunder. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder trade deadline
OKC Thunder trade deadline: Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies greet after the game (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Trio of young squads poised to fast track future plans early:

Each of the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans possess a young generational star. Specifically, Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson represent the type of talent that can catapult a franchise into the conversation for title contention.

Preseason it was believed a successful 2019-20 campaign for the Mavs and Pelicans would be obtaining a playoff berth to gain invaluable experience. The Grizzlies weren’t even expected to be in the mix let alone sitting on the playoff ladder 51 games into the season.

Mavericks kickstarted future rise:

The status of this triumvirate with two-thirds of the schedule complete finds the Mavericks already in the mix to vie for home court seeding. Granted they’ve suffered some minor slippage on the ladder but remain on the ladder in spite of their superstar being out injured for another week.

Losing Dwight Powell stings and the initial move to add Willie Cauley-Stein is a band-aid. But, the real need in Dallas is someone with clutch time cajones to assist Doncic as that’s their biggest weakness.

The player Dallas would likely earmark is Danilo Gallinari. The problem is OKC is neck and neck with Dallas having just overtaken them for sixth on the ladder. The question is why would Presti send a player to help a team the Thunder could potentially meet in the first round? Moreover, with both clubs looking to shore up their depth with a view to the future the players OKC would most desire would also likely be the ones Donnie Nelson wouldn’t be willing to concede.

Cinderella Grizzlies:

For the moment the Grizzlies hold the final berth and are fending off the chase pack that includes the Pelicans although they are six games back as of this morning. Andre Iguodala would be a nice piece (and logical fit) with the Thunder.

But — again during the course of writing this article he has since been traded to the Heat for Justise Winslow. And– there could be additional tie-ins to this deal as the media is suggesting Pat Riley is trying to also grab Gallinari. Rylan Stiles covers this in more detail here.

Anyway, it’s a pretty safe bet the Thunder won’t get anyone of substance from the Grizzlies, or at least anyone with long term benefit. Dillon Brooks is an ever improving asset but his fit with Morant and Jackson Jr. is ideal instilling his position within the core. That said, T.I. will keep our eye on the furious tweets regarding trades to see if there is any traction via the rumored Heat-Grizzlies-Thunder potential 3-team trade.


Which brings us to the Pelicans who are the team Sam Presti should be laser focusing on regarding trade possibilities.

The Pelicans are one of the most intriguing teams in the Southwest. Furthermore, the age of the majority of their assets aligns more directly with the timeline of the OKC Thunder as do their skillsets.

Following the Tuesday loss which pushed the Pelicans further away from the Grizzlies how invested will David Griffin be to either be a buyer or conversely engage as a seller to nab more latitude via draft picks?

Griff’s decision won’t be made in haste and he won’t forfeit the future of this club just to have a shot at the eighth seed (although deep down you know he’d love to face LeBron in round one).

The question is what would move the GM to trade either a youngster who has plenty of room for growth? Or better yet— a player the GM failed to lockdown prior to season start and might just win Most Improved Player this season (that was a hint — 😉).