The OKC Thunder could benefit by serving as a facilitator for Danilo Galinari in free agency via a sign and trade with several teams in the mix
When Russell Westbrook and Paul George were traded in the 2019 offseason many presumed the OKC Thunder were headed for a rebuild. Executive vice president and general manager, Sam Presti refused to take that stance. Instead, the bespeckled exec told pundits the club was entering a reposition and replenish phase.
Although hindsight is 20 – 20, we’ll never know how much of what Presti told the media immediately following the loss of two superstars was posturing and how much he truly believed.
For example, was he confident the 2019-20 iteration of the Thunder would be as successful as they were? Did his gut instinct tell him Chris Paul would have a resurgent season? How much faith did he have in Billy Donovan’s three point guard closing group? Did he foresee the seeming ideal chemistry the 2019-20 team would have? And when did he know the Thunder would ascend to be the association’s clutch time killers?
The truth is, he’ll never tell us – it simply isn’t Presti’s way. He’s stated the goal every season for the Thunder is to be competitive but regardless of what ‘r’ verb, he picks it’s clear the only one Presti has preoccupying his mind is REBUILD.
The GM’s actions this week made that position abundantly clear with the Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder trades. Presti doubled down on that goal with the move up to grab risk-reward prospect Aleksej Pokusevski. And, in case you still weren’t convinced moving out Danny Green, Ricky Rubio, and Kelly Oubre before they even got fitted for Thunder jerseys punctuated the fact the OKC Thunder will be gunning for the lottery this season.
So, as free agency begins tonight it wouldn’t be surprising if the Thunder were relatively quiet compared to their efforts just prior to and during the draft.
Danilo Gallinari could use OKC Thunder in sign and trade to get best deal
The one major exception would be tied to Danilo Gallinari. While the forward is a free agent and the OKC Thunder would certainly not be looking to bring him back given their mandate (READ: tank) they could play a role in where he lands and benefit in the process.
Gallo has stated he is intent on winning a title and that will take precedence in this next contract. Having said that, let’s not forget at the trade deadline last year a pending offer with the Heat fell through based on the terms. That indicates while the forward would be open to taking less money he’s also cognizant of his value and at 32 this will likely be his last major contract. As such, he’ll be more open to a deal with multiple years.
This past season Gallo earned $22.6 million and it’s fair to state that money was well earned. His 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds were the third-best on the Thunder while he was the team’s best 3-point sniper both in terms of makes and efficiency.
This free agency class isn’t packed with the talent of last season or the 2021 class so the forward will be among the most recruited. However, salary-cap will deter interested clubs particularly elite teams who’ve invested in their roster or clubs who need to remain flexible for the 2021 Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes
What this adds up to is the clear potential for the Thunder to play an active role in Gallinari’s free agency. Presti has already demonstrated his willingness to work with stars to get them where they want to play with George (Clippers), Westbrook (Rockets), and Chris Paul (Suns).
A sign and trade with the OKC Thunder would open up the field for prospective suitors for Gallinari. The benefit for the Thunder and Presti is clear especially if it includes young talent or draft picks. Even married with a short-term contract that will come off the books at season end and won’t put the Thunder over their cap to start the season is feasible.