Why the OKC Thunder should not make a splashy trade this season

2 of 4

What would be a big swing for the OKC Thunder?

So, what sort of “big swing” trades are possible? The Athletic has a trade board article that lists the top 25 players that could be had. Notably missing is one Lauri Markkanen. Don’t worry, we’ll get to him later. Let’s focus right now solely on players who are likely being shopped around. 

Pascal Siakam, with his high usage and poor shooting, is not an ideal fit. Demar DeRozan is 34 years old and it’s hard to picture him adjusting to the Thunder’s quick, high-motor style. Zach Lavine is – just no. 

I’m intrigued by Alex Caruso. His defense is top-notch, and his shooting splits are mighty impressive this season. But is he that much better than a Lu Dort?

I like him a lot in a vacuum, but given the team’s current construction, Caruso isn’t quite what the Thunder need. Good guards like Aaron Wiggins and Vasilije Micic (yes, he’s good) are struggling to get playing time this season. The upgrade that is Alex Caruso isn’t worth the capital to get him. 

That leaves us with OG Anunoby, whose on-court fit would be pretty stellar—a forward who could slot in between Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren in the starting lineup. The collective wingspan of those starters would be thirty-five feet, five inches.

Comparable to a giraffe standing on top of another giraffe. What better way to juice the transition offense than by pairing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, this year’s steals leader, with Anunoby, last year’s steals leader?

But there’s a catch. Anunoby is in the last year of his contract. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and could decide to join any team at the end of this season.

Even if you had a promise from Anunoby that he would re-sign with OKC in the offseason, then you’re paying two or three first-round picks and a young player for the privilege of signing Anunoby to a massive deal—at least $30 million per year, and maybe closer to $40 million per.

Then you get into the whole “you can’t pay all your guys” issue. A deal like that has to make you consider which of the Thunder’s young players you’re willing to part with.