One trade to make OKC Thunder the best defense in the NBA

Dorian Finney-Smith #28 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Dorian Finney-Smith #28 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The OKC Thunder are primed for an exciting 2023-24 NBA season. With such an exciting young core, it is easy to want to rush the process. That has led Oklahoma City Thunder fans to long for the next superstar trade that can really push this rebuild into hyperdrive.

However, an argument can be made that the Thunder do not need to trade for a star. In fact, there is a chance that adding a high-end role player changes Oklahoma City’s potential more than adding a flashy star.

The Oklahoma City Thunder can see a ton of success during the 2023-24 season after making the play-in tournament a year ago. The fanbase has set their sights on returning to the NBA Playoffs, getting their first look at this young core, and coach in a seven-game series. How far can this core go in its initial run? How will they handle the test of game-planning and adjusting to playing the same team repeatedly?

There are a lot of questions about this group still to be answered, but one thing is for sure: It is too early to trade for a star. That does not mean the Thunder should stay away from the trade market entirely.

The OKC Thunder could use this trade to unlock their potential both now and in the future.

While this trade will not net the Thunder some superstar, it gives the team flexibility for the 2023-24 season and beyond.

Why the Brooklyn Nets do this trade: 

Dorian Finney-Smith is owed 13.3 million dollars in 2023-24, 14.3 million dollars in 2024-15, and a 15.3 million dollar player option in 2025-26 that the Florida product will likely pick up. That is a lot of money invested in a high-end role player for a team that is currently stuck in the middle of contending for a playoff spot and rebuilding.

While Davis Bertans has the sticker shock of 17 million dollars owed to him this season and 16 million owed in 2024-25, that contract is not exactly as it appears. So long as the team holds Bertans out of games, only playing him in up to 74 percent of contests, they can waive Bertans for just five million dollars in the 2024 offseason. That takes long-term money off the Nets’ book.

The Brooklyn Nets have also a strange assortment of picks, having traded for James Harden, then shipping him away, as well as sending Kevin Durant to the Suns. They could use more bites at the apple. The Nets do not own a 2024 first-round pick, and this draft would not only give them one but allow them to have three picks in the 2025 NBA Draft to make moves with.

Why the OKC Thunder do this trade: 

The Oklahoma City Thunder have a ton of draft assets, and with a roster crunch on the horizon as well as a projected historically bad 2024 NBA Draft class, they can afford to offload some draft picks to bolster their squad. Even after this trade, as well as the one completed earlier this summer, the Thunder project to have two picks in the lowly 2024 draft and three picks in the 2025 Draft.

Dorian Finney-Smith is the ultimate role player; standing 6’7 220 pounds, Finney-Smith is a defensive stopper that can switch 1-5 in a pinch and defend 2-4 comfortably. For his career, the former-Dallas Maverick has a 35 percent three-point percentage, a career-high 39 percent mark in 2021-22 and 2020-21. He was a key cog for the Mavericks, making a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals during the 2021-22 season before getting bounced by the eventual Champion Warriors. The floor spacing and defense Finney-Smith provides at the power forward position can really help the OKC Thunder.

This potential trade helps the OKC Thunder out on the court and off of it.