3 Just-traded players the Thunder should have snagged themselves

Grant Williams, Charlotte Hornets
Grant Williams, Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages
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No. 2: Jaden Springer

It's rare for top-tier teams in the same conference to make an in-season trade with one another, but that's exactly what the Philadelphia 76ers did on Thursday. They made one deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, and then right at the buzzer dealt young guard Jaden Springer to the Boston Celtics.

The 76ers drafted Springer with the 28th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and have overseen his slow development over the past three seasons. The former Tennessee guard played in just 18 games total over his first two seasons but had begun to carve out a small role in Philly's rotation this year, appearing in 32 games.

Springer is an excellent defender, with lightning-quick hands and great shadowing technique. The Celtics appear to be the team in the league least in need of defensive backcourt players, but the 76ers were essentially just dumping him to create financial room under the luxury tax to sign Kyle Lowry.

The Thunder could have snuck in and snagged Springer, taking a flier on a defensive pest and betting that shooting guru Chip Engelland had at least a decent shot at developing his offensive game, which is an absolute zero at the NBA level thus far. It would be a low-risk, longshot trade, but the Thunder have succeeded on a few of those recently.

Sharp fans of the Thunder may remember Springer as the player the 76ers elected to keep ahead of the 2022-23 season, instead choosing to cut a shooter named Isaiah Joe. The Thunder scooped up Joe and have watched him blossom into one of the best shooters in the NBA and a crucial rotation player, while Springer has barely carved out a role in the league. It would be a full-circle move to bring Springer to the Thunder and rehabillitate him into a valued NBA player.