How Thunder rival stole the players Sam Presti should have traded for at the deadline

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

When the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Dallas Mavericks on February 10, 2024, the Mavericks' newest additions PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford dominated against the Thunder. The duo combined to score 34 points on 13-of-21 (61 percent) shooting and corralled 14 rebounds.

This helped the Mavs out-rebound the Thunder 54-40 en route to their 146-111 blowout win, a result that marked the Thunder's largest loss of the season.

While watching the game it was hard not to imagine what the Thunder would have looked like if Sam Presti would have rolled the dice on Gafford, rather than being a facilitator in helping the Mavs acquire him.

Don't get me wrong, giving the Mavs one of their three first-round picks in the 2024 draft in exchange for a 2028 pick swap with Dallas is great, because nobody knows where the Mavs will be in four seasons, but losing out on Gafford in the present still stings.

And, it could outright hurt the Thunder should they meet up with the Mavs in the postseason. They could have still done the Gafford deal, and then went and acquired Washington, only Dallas went and grabbed him too.

Going in a different direction

Instead, Presti and the Thunder took the conservative route in addressing the center position and opted to bring in Bismack Biyombo, who cost them nothing because he was picked up via the buyout market. Biyombo is considerably older than Gafford and Washington who are both 25, whereas he is 31.

Biyombo could also be a bit rusty once he makes his OKC Thunder debut after the All-Star break since he last played on January 9, 2024, as he was waived the next day on January 10 by the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the end, we will see how this decision pans out for the Thunder as they head into their stretch run and into the playoffs.

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