$120 million decision tabbed as 'biggest regret' for Thunder this season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat
Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The OKC Thunder have had quite a magical season in 2023-24 what with the fact that they secured their franchise's third-best record at 57-25 and became the youngest team in NBA history to claim the top seed in a conference standings. That said, even they still managed to endure a few mishaps throughout the campaign.

Though undoubtedly few and far between, some of the decisions made by Oklahoma City this year have been a tad bit questionable, with Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report arguing in a recent piece that the "biggest regret" the club should have is settling on a deal for Gordon Hayward at the February 8 trade deadline.

Gordon Hayward trade tabbed as 'biggest regret' for OKC Thunder

Though Hughes admits that a talent such as Hayward was initially viewed as a quality add to a young Thunder team that could always use more tertiary playmaking and veteran leadership as they were gearing up for a second-half push, ultimately, he believes that their trade pursuits would have been better used elsewhere, particularly when it related to their center position.

"Hayward was clearly past his prime and frequently injured, but he was the kind of ball-mover and semi-reliable deep threat OKC could justify taking a shot on.

He hit his threes but rarely looked like someone the Thunder could trust in high-stakes games, and their decision to bring him aboard instead of a big man who might be useful against all the size out West looks worse now.

OKC has done just fine playing with Chet Holmgren as the lone big man, but every frailty matters more in the playoffs. The Thunder's No. 28 ranking in rebound rate is on the short list of flaws most likely to result in postseason exit that comes earlier than expected. Hayward can't help the Thunder there."

Grant Hughes

While the veteran has shown flashes of being a quality contributor within Oklahoma City's rotation, especially during their April 10 outing against the Sacramento Kings where he dropped 18 points on 75.0 percent shooting, since arriving in the 405 the veteran has frequently proven to underwhelm more than anything else.

Through 26 games played, the former All-Star has found himself posting mere averages of 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17.2 minutes.

This type of production is a far cry from his averages with the Hornets earlier in the year where he was posting 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on 46.8 percent shooting from the floor and 36.1 percent shooting from deep.

Though there's still the possibility that he could step up in a major way during the Thunder's upcoming playoff run, Hughes strongly believes that "not swinging bigger" than a trade for the forward at this year's deadline is something Sam Presti and company should be kicking themselves for.

Luckily for them, should the Hayward experiment wind up not materializing as initially planned, his $120 million contract is slated to come off the books this summer as he enters free agency, thus giving the two parties the opportunity to walk away without any problems.