With one more day until the 2021 NBA Draft, the rumor mill is heating up. Not surprisingly the OKC Thunder are a team frequently at the center of these trade leaks. Following a season spent tanking with the sole purpose of OKC netting the top draft pick the bingo balls didn’t cooperate.
Instead, the sixth pick is the first OKC will make along with the 16th and 18th selections in the first round and another three (34th, 36th, 55th) in the second round. This draft class is considered one of the deepest in years with a quartet of talents considered franchise changers.
Although Cade Cunningham is the player Sam Presti most coveted moving up the draft board to obtain any of the talented quartet would be ideal. Not surprisingly, the OKC Thunder V.P. is actively trying to trade up with three of the four teams in those prime positions attached to recent Thunder trade rumors.
OKC Thunder cornerstone SGA should be untouchable in NBA Draft deals
In the eleventh hour, Pistons GM, Troy Weaver is said to still be considering Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, and Evan Mobley. Jonathan Wasserman reported Presti made a “legitimate offer” but the Pistons declined to make it seem all but certain Detroit will select Cunningham.
Dissecting the legitimacy of these reported offers isn’t always an easy task. Particularly when “rumor has it” is the only source offered as was the case with Matt Babcock of Basketball News regarding the Thunder supposedly offering a pick swap and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Pistons.
Unless it’s a Woj bomb or an established industry member with a previous track record Intentions has taken many of the rumors with a grain of salt. To that end, Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, and Jonathan Givony all indicated Sam Presti appears most interested in Cunningham and Evan Mobley although there are also reports Presti is also in talks with the Raptors.
Givony suggests the OKC Thunder are most interested in Cunningham and Evan Mobley as per the ESPN writer’s most recent mock draft.
"It is believed that the Thunder have been active in conversations looking to potentially move up in the draft, with Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley rumored to be the prospects they are highest on."
On Lowe and Wojnarowski’s draft preview the pair cited the treasure trove of OKC Thunder picks and Presti’s desire to move up. Woj specifically cited Mobley while Lowe is sure the teams in the top four positions are watching their phones like hawks.
Whether you buy into the veracity of the Thunder offering SGA to Troy Weaver is a moot point because it’s clear Cunningham is off the table. Alternatively, the pursuit of Mobley is real as is the belief the Cavaliers expect a king’s ransom for the big man.
In truth, Mobley may be the best fit of the top prospects for OKC particularly given their lack of depth up front. Al Horford and Moses Brown were traded to the Celtics in the Kemba Walker deal, Mike Muscala is a free agent and yesterday fans learned the Thunder elected not to offer Tony Bradley a qualifying offer. The latter means Bradley will be an unrestricted free agent which also means OKC can’t match any offer.
The existing roster has four noted power forwards including Isaiah Roby, Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Gabriel Deck. The latter two are utilized more as wings or guards while Roby’s extension must be fully guaranteed by August 4th.
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That doesn’t leave Mark Daigneault with many options at center and you have to believe Mobley who can plug in at the four or five has to be highly enticing.
That said, it was heartening to learn SGA wasn’t part of the initial talks with the Cavaliers and shouldn’t be in our estimation. To put it frankly, as great as the top three prospects are in this draft class they shouldn’t come at the expense of losing your franchise cornerstone.
Prior to his injury last season SGA was well on his way to posting a Most Improved Player campaign. The efficiency of his shooting from all three areas of the court was unparalleled.
While every Thunder fan should be giddy at the prospect of Presto the magician finding a way to trade up for Mobley in the narrator’s opinion Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be untouchable.
The talks won’t cool down, rather as Chad Ford posted on Twitter just a half-hour ago they are heating up. Check back later as Intentions dives in deeper to the Cavaliers – Thunder draft deal scenario.