Thunder Rumors: Could OKC pursue unwanted big man to bolster bench, rebounding?

John Collins, Utah Jazz
John Collins, Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

It's NBA Trade Deadline day, which means rumors are swirling thick around every team in the league. Will former All-Stars like Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan be traded or stay put? Will the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors shake things up or make another run with flawed rosters? Which player not on trade watch will unexpectedly be moved?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are certainly not apart from the rumors, either. While Sam Presti and the Thunder front office have been declaring patience, they also have some expiring contracts on a timer and a history of making some sort of deal every deadline.

Will the Thunder make a trade at the deadline?

Will this trade deadline be any different? Likely not. The Thunder are in a position at the top of the Western Conference to truly make a run in the postseason. They shouldn't mortgage the future to overemphasize this season, but they have such a deep collection of draft picks they can afford to use some of them on a win-now move. They're good enough already.

We've discussed a number of players over the past few days that could be an option for the Thunder, but as the deadline ticks closer a new name has entered the conversation.

The popular NBA trade website Fanspo has an active community discussing trade ideas, and their X account posts the best ideas. They recently suggested a deal for the Thunder to swap Davis Bertans' near-expiring deal and a second-round pick for a Utah Jazz big man.

Here's what the deal looks like:

The fit of John Collins on the Thunder

The Thunder do not view Davis Bertans as much more than matching salary in a trade, and they need all of their fingers and toes to count their second-round picks; the cost of Bertans and a second is an easy one to pay.

The cost with Collins is instead that of his contract. The former Atlanta Hawks power forward is under contract for two more seasons after this one, making $26.58 million next season and then again on a player option in 2025-26.

Is it worth it for the Thunder to commit that much of their cap sheet to Collins? He is certainly a productive player, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds in a reduced role on the Utah Jazz. He is a relentless rebounder, a skilled finisher on the block and has a funcitonal jumper.

At the same time, Collins has some glaring flaws as a player that have held him back from taking that next step. He's a willing defender but not a truly impactful one; he can get up for blocks when he is in position, but in between those moments he is often late to a rotation or mistimes his jumps.

If Collins was an offensive player on the level of his teammate Lauri Markkanen, the mixed bag on defense wouldn't be overly punitive. Unfortunately, Collins' early-career volume and accuracy as a 3-point shooter has abandoned him, and he is hitting only 34.1 percent from deep this year after dipping below 30 percent last season.

The fit on the Thunder does make some sense, as Collins could give them more size in the frontcourt both backing up Chet Holmgren and playing with him in two-big lineups. Chet's shooting would open space for Collins to go to work inside, and Collins has the size to take on larger opponents or clean the glass where Holmgren's slight frame works against him.

If Collins was a player making half of what he is, or on an expiring contract, this proposed trade would make more sense. Instead, the Thunder would be giving up a lot of flexibility to make other moves, either at this deadline or over the next two seasons. Collins' contract may be worth paying for some teams, but not the Thunder.

This deal should be one that Sam Presti passes on, and it's almost a lock that he will if it's ever offered to him.