Could the Thunder be a salary-dump destination for LaMarcus Aldridge?

If the Spurs want to trade LaMarcus Aldridge, the Thunder could take him in a salary dump – but they shouldn’t give up Al Horford to do so.

Shortly before the All-Star break, Bleacher Report posted a trade idea recommending the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs flip Al Horford and LaMarcus Aldridge. As we wrote, this would be a value trade for the Spurs but OKC would gain very little. Horford would be a huge improvement for San Antonio, while the Thunder’s only benefits would be to lean into the tank and move off Horford’s long-term salary.

Now, that deal is looking even more unreasonable. The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski reported that Aldridge and the Spurs are parting ways and that San Antonio is looking for a trade location. Aldridge has little to no trade value, while Horford still has some. Oklahoma City shouldn’t make that deal.

But that doesn’t mean the Thunder can’t be part of a trade. Could OKC be a taker, but solely as a salary dump?

Aldridge’s trade value is low, but because his contract expires after this season, there may be interest from other teams that also have oversized contracts.

Here are a few teams who may have interest based on their personnel:

All those trades have flaws, though. The Spurs would be getting back a lot of salary from the Hornets. The more I look at the Mavericks deal, the more ridiculous it seems to give up Powell for half a season of Aldridge. Same with Barnes — he has more value than that. And the Spurs probably don’t want three seasons of Love.

It’s tough to see anything of these deals go through. More simple would be for the Thunder to use their cap space for a salary dump and then waive Aldridge.

A dream version for OKC would be something along the lines of Trevor Ariza for Aldridge and a first-round pick. The Thunder would then buy out Aldridge’s contract. In doing so, they’ll have gained a first-round pick and found a taker for Ariza.

Ariza would need to consent to join the Spurs, though, or else San Antonio may not approve of the deal. He did not join the Thunder and is a buyout candidate, at which point he would likely join a contender.

If Ariza is unwilling to play for San Antonio, the Thunder could trade Darius Miller instead. A veteran owed $7 million this season, Miller does not have a rotation role with the Thunder. Oklahoma could buy him out or let his contract run out, but trading him to the Spurs would be a more ideal scenario.

The salary swap would work because the Thunder have a $27.5 million trade exception from Steven Adams and a $19.5 million from Danilo Gallinari. Either could be used in this trade for Aldridge, who is owed $24 million.

We talk all the time about Oklahoma City’s draft capital, but the team is also in an envious position due to the cap space. They have the second-lowest payroll in the league. This would allow them to put together a deal like this — one where they get a first-round pick just for taking on a large contract and then waive the player.

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Trade week: Could the Hornets add a center, trade for Thunder’s Al Horford?

The Charlotte Hornets could find an answer at center with Al Horford, but in this trade idea, they would give the OKC Thunder Malik Monk.

Last offseason, the Charlotte Hornets were often linked to James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu in the draft. It was thought they would pursue a center.

They went with LaMelo Ball instead, and it has so far been far and away the right choice. But they could still use a center. The Oklahoma City Thunder have a player who could be the answer.

Al Horford, under contract for two seasons in addition to this, could go a long way in helping them earn a playoff spot without crippling their future payroll.

Related: Bleacher Report’s Al Horford trade ideas

The proposal

Thunder receive: Malik Monk, Cody Zeller, Vernon Carey Jr., 2021 Clippers second-round draft pick

Hornets receive: Al Horford

Bleacher Report proposes 2 Al Horford trade ideas

Bleacher Report proposed two Al Horford trades to the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics. What do you think?

Bleacher Report posted one trade idea for every team in the NBA heading into the final month before the March 25 trade deadline. Multiple teams were connected to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Two different teams were presented with ideas to trade for Thunder center Al Horford: the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics.

Horford has revitalized his value since being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Thunder. He is a player who can help a Spurs team fighting for a playoff spot or a Celtics team trying to become a serious contender.

Let’s dive into how the trade ideas might help (or hurt) the teams involved.

HoopsHype: Thunder should be aggressive, scope market for young players at deadline

HoopsHype said the OKC Thunder shouldn’t be scared to trade some draft capital if the right young player hits the market.

Most are writing the Oklahoma City Thunder should be sellers at the deadline. Ship out George Hill. Try to find a taker for Al Horford and keep gathering assets.

HoopsHype is on the other train: Don’t be afraid to trade one of the picks you have. Use this time to scope the market for young talent available.

Be aggressive.

That was site’s message in its trade deadline primer with the March 25 date rapidly approaching.

Oklahoma City should either give salary relief to teams in the luxury tax or try to find a player in the mold of John Collins.

“They have enough draft equity to acquire a foundational player. For example, they could easily meet Atlanta’s demands for John Collins and, if they want him, could make the best offer on the market with multiple future first-round picks.”

The Atlanta Hawks big is young and talented, but he’s about to reach restricted free agency and could demand a hefty contract. If the Hawks trade him, the Thunder could have interest because they have cap space and a need for young talent, HoopsHype argues.

“While it’s arguably too early for the Thunder to make a consolidation trade like that, they also can’t possibly keep and make a selection with every single draft pick they’re owed. If they could turn some of those picks into a great player they covet who is very young, they should consider it.”

It’s definitely too early for the Thunder to do that. They’ll have to find a balance between Boston Celtics’ Danny Ainge (never trade the picks) and a spending spree (in the mold of the Hawks this offseason, who may have dived in a year too early).

Outside of that, HoopsHype focused on Hill, Horford and Trevor Ariza.

The outlet wrote that Hill and Ariza could be acquired for the right price (we’ll amend that to say Ariza could be acquired for literally any price. It seems likely he’ll be bought out, so the Thunder can save a little bit on his remaining salary and Ariza can sign with a team of his choosing for a cheap salary).

Horford “has rehabilitated his value after his strange season in Philadelphia and could help many competitive teams right now,” wrote analyst Yossi Gozlan.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be traded, though.

“His high salary and the Thunder’s high price demand could delay a trade involving him until the offseason.”

That all is true.

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The other name to watch is Mike Muscala, the stretch-five on a $2.3 million expiring contract.

Those are a few names the Thunder could and should consider trading.

Let’s get to it.

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Welcome to OKC Thunder Wire 2021 Trade Week

With the NBA Trade Deadline of March 25 rapidly approaching, OKC Thunder Wire will begin its 2021 trade week with proposals and ideas.

Welcome to the OKC Thunder Wire trade week.

Over the offseason, staff writers put together a list of trade proposals the Oklahoma City Thunder could pursue. We’ll do the same now that the All-Star Game has come and gone and the March 25 trade deadline is rapidly approaching.

Many of the trade ideas presented will be our own. Other pieces will be analysis of trades created by national outlets such as Bleacher Report or our sister websites in the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.

Most, if not all, will be centered around George Hill, Al Horford or Mike Muscala.

Tune in daily to check out different trade avenues the Thunder could pursue to cut costs and retrieve players for the future.

This post will be updated daily with links to content throughout the week.

Trade idea: Spurs trade for Schroder for one final playoff run with DeRozan, Aldridge

The San Antonio Spurs could trade for Dennis Schroder to make one final run at the playoffs with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.

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The San Antonio Spurs have one more year of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge before they hit a reset and start over.

Maybe they want to acquire one more good player and try to make one final run at the postseason.

Trading a few young players for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder could put them in chase of the postseason.

In return, the Thunder would gain a some one-year deals and depth going into the 2020-21 season.

The proposal

Thunder receive: Derrick White, Trey Lyles, Chimezie Metu, Keldon Johnson

Spurs receive: Dennis Schroder

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Why the Thunder do this

The key piece of this trade is Derrick White, who looks like he can be a role player for a long time and only costs $3.5 million this season before he enters restricted free agency next year.

The rest is salary filler with some upside.

Early in the career of Trey Lyles, the power forward flashed legitimate potential. Midway through his first season with the Denver Nuggets in 2017-18, he averaged about 15 points and seven rebounds over a 30-game stretch, 28 of which came off the bench.

He hasn’t shown that skill set consistently since, but at $5.5 million for one more year, it’s a low risk for Oklahoma City to take him to back up Darius Bazley at the 4 and see if they want to sign him for another couple years.

Keldon Johnson spent most of his rookie season in the G League. He only appeared in 17 NBA games, eight of which were in the bubble.

But over those eight games, the small forward was excellent. He averaged 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and shot a whopping 69.2% from 3, albeit on only 1.9 attempts per game.

This was in part a result of teams playing bench and depth options way more over those eight games, but he showed some promise. He has three more years on his contract to showcase that more often.

Chimezie Metu, who is 23, is simply depth at power forward and a little extra salary cap filler to make the deal work (the Spurs are also releasing the cap hold on Tyler Zeller in this deal).

So Oklahoma City gets a couple young players to look at and gives Lyles one more chance. There aren’t any draft picks, but let’s be real — the Thunder have plenty of those already.

Why the Spurs do this

Here is the list of guaranteed contracts on the Spurs roster in 2021-22:

  • Dejounte Murray

Here is the list of players with options:

  • Lonnie Walker
  • Luka Šamanić
  • Keldon Johnson

That’s it. The Spurs have one more year of playing with experienced veterans. The contracts of DeRozan, Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills expire after this year.

Gregg Popovich would surely like to run this team back one more time with all the ammo he can.

Adding Schroder doesn’t ensure a playoff spot, but he does make this group better and adds explosiveness.

If he starts next to Murray, that’s a very, very good defensive front. If San Antonio brings back Bryn Forbes, the three of them plus Patty Mills make up an underrated guard corps. Plus, Schroder has enough experience in three-guard lineups — he was part of the Thunder guard group that had the best three-man net rating in the league — that Popovich could get creative.

If the Spurs have to hit a reset, and they aren’t able to trade the expiring deals of DeRozan and Aldridge, they may as well try to make one more eighth seed. Schroder is an easy way to help the team without affecting future salary space or giving up draft capital.

Why the Thunder don’t do this

The Thunder would only save about $3 million in cap with this trade. Most the players are still on expiring deals, so it doesn’t give them long-term help, unless they decide to re-sign White and Johnson ends up being better than a first-round draft pick that they would receive in return.

But even those two have issues: White is only a year younger than Schroder, and Johnson spent almost all season in the G League. It’s unlikely those eight pre-playoff bubble games are indicative of NBA-readiness.

This trade may net the Thunder a handful of good young players, but it also may be a good player for three guys who won’t be on the team next year and the No. 29 pick in last year’s draft. Surely Schroder can net a better return, right?

Why the Spurs don’t do this

Derrick White has some value. On Zach Lowe’s podcast with Bill Simmons, White came up in conversation, and Lowe said, “I know a lot of teams are going to call the Spurs about Derrick White, for instance … ‘Maybe I’ll call about Derrick White and see if I can get him.'”

That could lead to possibilities, including a team offering better than Schroder or the Spurs simply wanting to re-sign White to a long-term deal.

They’ve also got to be intrigued with Johnson after his bubble performance. He has three more years on his contract before he hits restricted free agency, and this year he has a salary of just $2 million.

Does the organization think it has a legit chance to make the playoffs in the Western Conference with the Golden State Warriors set to return, the Memphis Grizzlies hoping for vengeance after just missing out on the eighth seed last year, the New Orleans Pelicans entering Year 2 with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Minnesota Timberwolves adding the No. 1 pick, the Phoenix Suns entering with high expectations and some desperation, and a Sacramento Kings team with a new front office that was in the middle of this run last year?

If that answer is no, it doesn’t make sense to trade White and Johnson for Schroder.

Who says no?

I’m not going to pretend to know how to read the Spurs office. How much of win-now mode are they in? Are they willing to make a push and give up potential future help? I do not know.

The Thunder, meanwhile, can probably get better return for Schroder. If they do this, it feels more like a trade that happens to a rebuilding team during the season as losses stack up, not the return of a front office trying to put together an advantageous offseason.

This feels like a trade that would happen if the Spurs are particularly optimistic and the Thunder are relatively pessimistic.

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Thunder and Sixers could flip centers Adams, Horford in salary swap

The Philadelphia 76ers need to get off Al Horford’s contract. Would they take on the salary of Steven Adams, who is also not a good fit?

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This isn’t the most glamorous of trades, but the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers swapping centers could work out for both teams.

The Sixers need to find a way to get out of Al Horford’s contract and solve the fit problems that he poses in the lineup. The Thunder, meanwhile, have a center who is on an expiring contract in Steven Adams.

It’s not a perfect trade by any means, but both teams would get positives out of it.

The proposal

Thunder receive: Al Horford, 2021 first-round pick

Sixers receive: Steven Adams

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Why the Thunder do it

This trade all comes down to the first-round pick. If Oklahoma City does succeed in trading Adams, there are few few ways to envision a deal landing a first-rounder in return. This is one of the only ways.

Horford has three years left on his deal at an average of $27 million per season. His first year perfectly matches Adams’ $27.5 million contract. In the short-term, this is the Thunder acquiring a first-round pick at no cost.

Beyond one year, Oklahoma City would have to find another trade to get off Horford’s contract. There’s reason to believe he still has talent — he’s just one year removed from a strong season with the Boston Celtics, one which earned him a deal worth $109 million over four years. It’s possible his struggles are more due to the poor fit with the Sixers than any real talent loss.

If that’s the case, he can revive some trade value and the Thunder could feasibly trade him for a second-round pick next offseason. That is what would make this a good deal for Oklahoma City.

Why the Sixers do it

Philadelphia would be a legitimate title contender if their floor spacing was better. Adams wouldn’t solve this problem, but the fact that he only has one year left on his contract does give them a chance to make this work.

There are a few avenues the 76ers could go if they get Adams. The ideal one is to trade him to a team in need of a center on an expiring deal and get back a second-round pick or an inexpensive bench option. That return would be as minimal as possible, but it would be a lot easier to trade Adams than Horford.

Another is to play him as a backup big. Adams a starting-caliber player to be sure, but the Sixers already know he won’t fit next to Embiid. If the star gets 30 minutes per game and Adams gets 20 minutes per game, that only puts them on the court at the same time for two minutes. Adams wouldn’t be happy, but again, it’s only a one-year deal. They’ll separate after the season.

The third option is to simply waive him. Adams would find a different team, and while paying him $27.5 million for no reason hurts, it’s better than paying Horford $81 million over three years.

In fact, saving that $27 million next offseason will put them one Tobais Harris salary dump away from creating max cap space in what is expected to be an absolutely loaded 2021 free agency class.

Why the Thunder don’t do it

The thought of paying Horford $81 million over three years is tough to swallow. If the Thunder can’t trade him and the Sixers are improved next year, they may have eaten this contract for a pick in the mid- to late-20s. That’s not a good deal.

It would be much, much simpler to either let Adams finish out his contract in Oklahoma City or find a suitor who will give the organization a second-round pick.

Why the Sixers don’t do it

In Year 1, this isn’t even a salary dump, as the contract of Horford is within $30,000 of Adams’. Giving up a first-round pick to swap these salaries for what would be an even worse fit is not a good idea, on paper.

But this is Daryl Morey’s team now, and his former organization, the Houston Rockets, never used their first-round picks.

That’s barely an exaggeration. Their last first-round pick was in 2015, when they selected Sam Dekker. Morey is not afraid of missing out on late first-round picks.

Opening up that money ahead of the 2021 free agency class is smart and necessary.

Who says no?

In my mind, giving up a late first-round pick is worth it to get out of Horford’s contract. If the Sixers do their due diligence and find nobody else will take Horford, they almost need to do it, not just for this year but for the 2021 free agency.

The Thunder, however, would be less interested. A rebuilding team needs to be getting off $20 million-plus contracts, not tacking on more years of paying 34-year-old players this much money.

I don’t think Oklahoma City says yes, but their is some relatively similar precedent: Just last offseason they traded for Chris Paul. Granted, his contract is less expensive and for fewer years than Russell Westbrook, but a team that was supposedly rebuilding added an expensive 35-year-old.

Then they revitalized his trade value. If Presti is confident his new coaching staff can do the same, the Thunder just won a first-round pick and potentially more.

If the Sixers need to convince the Thunder, they could also swap 2020 first-rounders. Oklahoma City would get back the No. 21 pick that originally belonged to them, and Philadelphia would slide down to pick No. 25.

That may make it easier for the Thunder.

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The Sixers are making 2 major hires with ties to Chris Paul. Will there be a reunion?

The 76ers hired Doc Rivers and reportedly agreed to terms with Daryl Morey. Both have experience with Chris Paul. Is there a trade to be made?

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The Philadelphia 76ers are in need of a floor spacer and a point guard.

When they signed a contract to make Doc Rivers the new head coach, there was one star point guard, one who used to play under Rivers, who seemed to be an obvious candidate.

Then, reports surfaced that Daryl Morey was set to become the new 76ers president of operations.

Morey comes from the Houston Rockets. He traded for and then traded away that same point guard who played under Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Are the 76ers gearing up to make a deal for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul?

Let’s back up a little. Obviously, this trade is not the reason Philadelphia hired these two men. Both have made contributions to their respective former teams that will put them under Hall of Fame consideration. The 76ers hired them because they are good at their jobs and can help Philly grow.

They just both happen to have quite a bit of experience with Paul.

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The point guard played for the Clippers for six seasons, four of which were with Rivers as head coach. Over those four years, Paul made four all-star games and averaged 19 points and 10 assists per outing.

Los Angeles won more than 50 games in all four seasons, posting a record of 217-111.

Their relationship got dicey at the end of that tenure, but Rivers said in September that the two had moved passed it.

“We put that behind us a year ago, at least. We golfed a bunch this summer before the season started,” he said in a video tweeted by Clutch Points reporter Tomer Azarly.

“We cleaned the air long ago. That happens from coach (to) player a lot. Usually when a guy leaves a company in business, most of the time it’s not on great terms, even if they’re just going to another opportunity, but usually you come back to that company and say Thank you,’ and ‘Appreciate all the things you’ve done.’ I think that was CP in our case. That’s old news.”

The Clippers traded Paul to Morey and the Rockets, where Paul averaged 17.1 points and eight assists over two seasons. While there were reports about a fractured relationship between Paul and co-star James Harden, there wasn’t public noise about him and Morey.

So now, two of the more powerful members of the Philly team have connections to Paul.

The Thunder are likely open to trading the guard with his value as high as it’ll ever be.

The Sixers need to add a player who can facilitate the offense, spread the court and play defense.

This is all speculation, but it sounds like there’s a match there.

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Trade idea: Chris Paul goes to Knicks; Thunder get Julius Randle, picks

In this trade idea, the New York Knicks acquire Chris Paul — but they have to give up Julius Randle and multiple draft picks. Is it worth it?

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In this trade proposal, the New York Knicks land their star with hopes it helps them in the 2021 free agency.

The Oklahoma City Thunder get back a young power forward and a pair of draft picks.

The proposal:

Thunder receive: Julius Randle, 2021 first-round pick (via Dallas Mavericks), 2023 top-7 protected first-round pick

Knicks receive: Chris Paul

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Why the Thunder do it

Oklahoma City needs a new power forward with Danilo Gallinari likely to leave in free agency, and Randle is a player the team can look at to see if he fits into the future.

Randle is a talented scorer. There’s no denying it. From Dec. 11 through March 11, the final 40 games of the season, he averaged more than 21 points per game. He also averaged more than 10 rebounds.

But he shot 46% from the field, 27.7% from 3 and has a tendency to overlook passes in favor of taking it to the rim himself. He also does not play good defense.

I don’t like calling players good stats, bad team guys, because if bad players could post 20/10s regularly, everybody would be doing it. But Randle, with a 132-262 career record (excluding his rookie year in which he played one game), has yet to show he impacts winning.

But that could be more of a system of the teams he’s played on. The Knicks are not a model franchise. His lone season with the New Orleans Pelicans was filled with Anthony Davis drama. The Los Angeles Lakers had drama of their own during his time there, all of which ended without a playoff berth.

Oklahoma City gets one year guaranteed and a second year partially guaranteed. It’s a good risk to take.

Then, the draft picks. The Dallas Mavericks’ pick is likely to be a late first-rounder. The 2023 Knicks pick is lightly protected, but if the 2021 free agency doesn’t go as New York hopes, that could easily be a lottery pick.

That 2023 pick is actually the real draw of the trade. It could be a star. Yet the Knicks may be willing to give it up because there’s a chance they land a star with Paul’s help.

Why the Knicks do it

New York, after failing to sign any of its targets last offseason, cannot go into 2021 with the same pitch. The organization needs a way to show the culture is changed. It needs to have a respected star helping pitch the team.

It needs someone like Chris Paul, who is an NBA All-Second Team player and the president of the players’ association.

That free agency class is loaded. Randle isn’t the player who will attract stars to join him.

If the Knicks don’t believe Randle is a long-term solution at power forward — and there have been rumors throughout the season that he’s a trade piece — giving him up isn’t an issue. Nor is losing the Mavericks’ 2021 pick, which should be in the late 20s. Using one of the Kristaps Porzingis picks to acquire Paul actually puts a sweeter taste in the mouth.

Knicks president Leon Rose is the former agent of Paul, so there’s a strong connection there. Paul can be a very good mentor to young players, particularly RJ Barrett.

Plus, the salary doesn’t cripple New York. Assuming the Knicks decline the options of Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington, they’ll still have about $20 million to spend after acquiring Paul, which would go up to $27 if they do not guarantee Elfrid Payton’s full salary. Those financial figures depend on how far the salary cap drops this offseason.

About $5 million will go to the No. 8 pick and about $2 million to the No. 27 pick. That could leave the team with $20 million to spend on free agents, plus another player with the mid-level exception.

Chris Paul, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, two first-round draft picks, one or two free agents combined at $20 million and another free agent worth about $9 million is a much better corps than what the Knicks put on the court last season … in fact, is that a playoff team in the Eastern Conference?

Why the Thunder don’t do it

As addressed above, there are a lot of question marks about Randle’s upside. His team is on the hook for $18.9 million this coming season before a year with a non-guaranteed $19.8 million. If his 2020-21 team doesn’t keep him for the following season, Randle would be on the books for $4 million in 2021-22, according to Jeff Siegel.

The team is trying to trim salary, and that’s at least $22.9 million for a power forward when they could just slide Darius Bazley into the starting lineup and be done with it.

Why the Knicks don’t do it

Apologies to Knicks fans who are about to read this sentence: Few assets are more valuable than a New York draft pick.

Though I expressed optimism the Knicks can get a star in 2021, and therefore limit how good that 2023 draft pick will be, how much confidence is there really that they can pull it off?

Trading Randle, who will be 26 next season, and taking a risk on giving up that draft pick is a lot to ask in exchange for an $85 million, 35-year-old point guard.

If Paul helps them fight for a playoff spot and get another star, the trade worked wonderfully. If not, they may lose a lottery pick.

Who says no?

I think the Knicks want Chris Paul and I think this is a simple way to get it done. Ultimately, though, I think giving away that 2023 pick scares them off. Maybe they could interest the Thunder in Knox instead of the pick (I personally would not be interested in Knox instead of the pick).

One coworker I approached with this idea said the Knicks should do the deal in a heartbeat, even if it was only top-5 protected. Another said he would do it if it were top-10 instead of top-7.

We’ll leave it at top-7, and maybe the Knicks can negotiate it down to 10 with the Thunder having rights to a future pick if they end up with a pick better than 10 in 2023.

Why a Dennis Schroder-Kyle Kuzma swap could make sense for Lakers, Thunder

It could make some sense for the Thunder to trade a point guard to the Lakers, but not necessarily the one that everyone thinks.

In some ways, it would make a lot of sense for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers to consummate a trade involving one of the Thunder’s point guards, but not the one everyone has been talking about.

Could a trade between the teams involving Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma be mutually agreeable? Perhaps.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder expected to continue to pare down its roster in furtherance of its rebuild, Chris Paul is the name most often associated with potential trades that the franchise could try to make, but Schroder and even Steven Adams have had their names tossed around in scenarios, as well.

While both players are 27 years old and on the younger side of 30, each is entering the final year of their current contracts. Adams is slated to earn $27.5 million in 2020-21, while Schroder will earn a relatively more modest $15.5 million. It is Schroder, though, who might net the Thunder the more gifted prospect, and he could be a great fit for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Although the Lakers have just won their 17th NBA Championship, the team will not rest on its laurels as LeBron James and Anthony Davis attempt to solidify their places in history with back-to-back championships. James, who will turn 36 years old by the end of the year, played a great many minutes as the team’s point guard, and it’s impossible to ignore how Rajon Rondo’s spirited play helped take some of the pressure off of James to both create and be an offensive force.

With Rondo reportedly set to opt out of his contract and test free agency, the crosstown Clippers are expected to register interest in him. Schroder could be an upgrade.

The Proposal

Thunder receive: Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green

Lakers receive: Dennis Schroder and Terrance Ferguson

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Why The Thunder Do It

While he is certainly one of the better sixth men in the entire league, Dennis Schroder will be a free agent after the 2020-21 season, and it’s doubtful either he or the Thunder will have interest in a re-signing. Trading him for Kuzma would give the Thunder a player two years younger who would complement Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at a position of need for Oklahoma City.

Including Terrance Ferguson is something that the Thunder could balk at if the team isn’t ready to give up on the defensive-minded, athletic guard; however, Hamidou Diallo has more perceived upside and is less expensive, and Lu Dort has already taken Ferguson’s starting spot. Ferguson might be expendable.

Why The Lakers Do It

Top-heavy as the roster is, the Lakers have a few needs on the team and shouldn’t rest on its laurels if its hope is to maximize the remainder of LeBron James’ career. To that end, finding a dependable attack guard who can create plays for others and finish at the basket should be high on Rob Pelinka’s wish list this offseason. If he plays dependable defense, that’s all the better.

Schroder more than fits the bill.

While trading Kyle Kuzma, a young, starting-caliber player, would understandably be a difficult decision, the forward has struggled to find his consistency in his bench role with the Lakers. The team might be selling low on him at this point, but Schroder — who is only two years older — simply fills a more pressing need for a franchise that is in absolute win-now mode.

Including Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson has cons for each team, but the Lakers would better match salary and receive an athletic defensive-minded guard in exchange for a veteran player whose championship experience could help the Thunder’s young players develop some good habits.

Why The Thunder Don’t Do It

Dennis Schroder is only two years older than Kyle Kuzma, so the trade doesn’t make them that much younger. The team could be reluctant to assume the remaining two years on Danny Green’s contract and also could believe that additional draft capital (which the Lakers don’t have) would be preferable to trading for Kuzma, who is eligible for a rookie extension after the 2020-21 season.

If the club still believes that Ferguson has a future as a key rotation piece, it may very well perceive the trade as it giving up a promising 22-year-old prospect for a player who may not necessarily upgrade the roster very much.

With plenty of draft picks over the next several years, general manager Sam Presti may also be content with letting the big money on his books expire and preserve the team’s cap maneuverability — both of which would be undercut by the addition of Green, and potentially Kuzma, depending on his market price in restricted free agency.

Why The Lakers Don’t Do It

Although each player had their struggles last season, the Lakers won a championship with both Kuzma and Green playing integral roles. Before the arrivals of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kuzma enjoyed existence as arguably the team’s most promising prospect. If his improved defensive presence helps him supplant Danny Green or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the team’s starting lineup, he may eventually emerge into the third piece that the Lakers need to ensure a continued run. His playmaking abilities have also improved to the point where he could possibly spell James in that regard, as well, so the Lakers may not be inclined to give him up just yet.

With respect to Green, although he may be past his prime, he’s one of a few players who have won championships with three different teams. That’s no accident. Trading him along with Kuzma would essentially fill one hole for the Lakers while creating another. It would be incumbent on Ferguson to either grow up quickly or Pelinka to find another player who can fill Green’s role. That task might not be one that the defending champion wants to proactively take up.

Who Says No?

Flip a coin. There are pros and cons for both teams, but the Thunder may feel that Kuzma’s perceived upside was a result of him being a go-to player on a losing Lakers team that didn’t have LeBron James. The requirement of taking back Green and his contract might also not be as appealing as shipping Schroder out to another team that has draft capital and a one-year contract back to offer.

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