Grade the Trade: Thunder jettison Giddey, bring superstar home in bold 3-team pitch

The Oklahoma City Thunder are good enough to push their chips in and make a run at a championship by making a bold trade for a superstar former player.
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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Do the Thunder make this trade?

In addition to the on-court difficulties of finding the right star to add to their roster, the Oklahoma City Thunder have to consider how expensive their team is going to get in a couple of seasons when new contracts for Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren kick in.

Adding another star who will be under contract for $40 or $50 million in 2026-27 would skyrocket this group above the second apron.

Adding Kevin Durant gives them flexibility that offseason, as Durant has just two seasons remaining on his current deal. The Thunder could benefit from their lowered team costs over the next two seasons by adding an All-NBA forward and two-time Finals MVP, then as Jalen Williams grows into his own and the roster is poised to get more expensive they can move on.

As far as two-year rentals go, it's hard to beat Kevin Durant.

He is an underrated defender, plus rebounder and strong playmaker, and that's in addition to being one of the league's best scorers and shooters, even at 35 years old. The thought of defenses trying to stop an SGA - Holmgren pick-and-pop action while Jalen Williams runs a pindown screen for Kevin Durant and either Cason Wallace or Isaiah Joe spot up in the opposite corner? It's literally a Kobayashi Maru.

There is also a storybook nature to the narrative of Durant returning to Oklahoma City at the end of his career. He is the best player in franchise history, won an MVP, and took this team to the NBA Finals.

Coming back to be the veteran co-star for a couple of seasons would likely win back most of the fans hurt by his departure.

Kevin Durant winning a title for the Thunder? That's what movies are made of.

This deal is not cheap, especially not for a player a dozen years older than the rest of the core. Losing Lu Dort is a major blow and requires Cason Wallace to be ready right away. The Thunder would lack much of any matching salary to add other pieces.

Yet their status would go from title contender to title favorite, and that is the kind of deal you push the chips in for.

They would still have draft picks, still have young, improving players, and still have a bright future even after Durant leaves. If all parties are on board with this, it seems like the kind of bold move that wins a franchise a title.

Grade: A-

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