Just because you can does not always mean you should. The OKC Thunder have a treasure chest of draft picks, one of the best young cores in the NBA, and a General Manager known for making risky moves. After all, “scared money don’t make none.”
This continues to lead National Media members to throw the Oklahoma City Thunder into every trade discussion involving disgruntled stars. The latest is the awkward scenario unfolding in Portland with their all-time leading scorer, Damian Lillard, asking out over the summer. Lillard has made it known he will only play for the Heat, which has led to Miami low-balling the Trail Blazers in their offers.
With the Miami Heat owning all the leverage, Portland is desperate to gain any back, floating out mystery Eastern Conference things and other empty threats to try to make the Heat rise the anti.
Despite some National Media Members advocating for it, Damian Lillard does not fit the OKC Thunder.
Enter Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, who has gone on to discuss this possible Damian Lillard to OKC trade multiple times in the last two weeks. On his Podcast, the crossover, Chris Manix said, “Trust me, I wrote this last week…I believe I’m going to call this an educated opinion. That’s if Dame is still on that Blazers roster in January. And if OKC is overachieving. If they’re playing really well, don’t be surprised if they go out and make a run at Lillard.”
This is not an educated opinion from the long-time National scribe. If the OKC Thunder are “overachieving,” they are not blowing up their young core for a 33-year-old guard who plays best with the ball in his hands as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander does.
Furthermore, what would Portland want from OKC’s talent-rich roster? Given they have Scoot Henderson to pair with Shaedon Sharpe, is Josh Giddey all that enticing positionally? They would much prefer Jalen Williams or Chet Holmgren. Oh yeah, and you have to ship off Lu Dort to have the salaries match.
So, in that case, OKC is left with an awkward fitting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Damian Lillard, and Josh Giddey core with one of Williams or Holmgren. That would make the team worse off than their current long-term roster construction and still keep them from title contention in the short term.
The OKC Thunder will take time with everything, and if they ever do make a massive splash, there are far better fits out there. Could you imagine a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Giannis Antetokounmpo pairing?
If Damian Lillard is willing to make this big of a mess of things with a franchise where he is considered one of if not their best player, do you really think things will go smoothly in small market Oklahoma City?
Also, trading in chips for a 33-year-old who will be on an expiring contract following this upcoming season is not a formula for success when you are trading in eight years of either Holmgren or Williams.
At that point, the OKC Thunder are bidding against themselves as the Miami Heat, to this point, have only offered an array of Tyler Herro and just a random assortment of assets that can best be described as “stuff.”
For the great work, Chris Manix does Nationally, this take that he is fixated on misses the mark. The Oklahoma City Thunder are not trading for Damian Lillard. He does not fit with what Sam Presti is building.