The Oklahoma City Thunder have again swung a trade during the NBA Finals just weeks before the NBA Draft with the Denver Nuggets. Last year, the OKC Thunder gave the Nuggets the 30th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in return for JaMychal Green and a future 2027 First Round pick. This year, the Oklahoma City Thunder are completing a more complicated deal with the Denver Nuggets, who are presently in the Finals!
Last Year, never of these teams made it to the NBA Finals. This season as the trade is announced by NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Nuggets are mere hours away from Tipping-Off Game 4 of their series against the Miami Heat. While a funny anecdote, there is only so much else for a General Manager to do at this time besides work and stress about the impending game. The work right now is done by the coaching staff and players on the court.
The OKC Thunder kick the can down the road to elongate their asset window in a trade with the Denver Nuggets.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are sending the Denver Nuggets pick 37 in the 2023 NBA Draft, a 2024 Second-Round Pick, and the least favorable of their four 2024 First-Round picks (The worst pick position of the Thunder, Jazz, Rockets, and Clippers first-round selections) as Denver will send Oklahoma City a protected 2029 First Round pick.
This is extremely similar to what the two sides concocted last offseason just before the NBA Draft, which netted the Nuggets pick 30 while giving Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder future flexibility.
So why did the Thunder make this swap? The easy answer is future picks are more valuable than current picks. The closer the picks get, the more definitive value they have, but a pick in 2029 has limitless value right now. Especially with the new CBA, the Thunder will need future first-round picks as they begin paying their core to have cost-controlled contracted players.
I highlight the similarities between these two deals for the crowd that believes OKC has limited themselves in any way regarding trading up in the 2023 NBA Draft. A year ago, many were outraged that the Thunder “gave up” the 30th overall pick two weeks before the trade instead of using it to trade up. They did not just trade up from 30 but ended up buying back into the NBA Draft Lottery from thin air. An even more impressive feat to pull off than keeping 30 and wiggling up the board a little bit. Sam Presti, yet again, has enough assets to have his cake and eat it too. Kicking the can down the road for more longevity while maintaining enough assets to trade up in the 2023 NBA Draft if the right opportunity presents itself.