With the NBA trade deadline arriving in almost a little over a month the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking at the roster from top to bottom to retool and make a playoff run. Currently sitting in 7th place overall in the Western Conference and with a comfortable six-game lead over the Denver Nuggets and a seven-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Thunder still want to make the leap to pass up the Jazz and win the division to get home court advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs. The biggest holes for the team right now are at both the power forward and small forward positions for Oklahoma City. Here are some possible trades the Thunder should look into if they want to plug those holes.
Trade Scenario #1 - Casspi/Johnson to Oklahoma City, Cousins to Boston
Unfortunately, it appears Rudy Gay has ruptured his Achilles tendon and will be done for the year. Gay was a major target for Oklahoma City who would be an instant upgrade at the small forward position, allow Andre Roberson to slide over to his natural shooting guard position and allow Victor Oladipo to create off the bench in a sixth-man role, since he is a ball dominant guard like Russell Westbrook. Instead, the Oklahoma City Thunder should be looking at another small forward on Sacramento’s roster in Omri Casspi. If possible the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder should ring up the Boston Celtics to get them involved as well. Here is a proposed trade involving all three teams:
Source: Evan Dammarell
In this scenario all three teams would benefit from the trade. Sacramento is able to start building a future foundation with Jaylen Brown, the seventh overall pick in the latest NBA draft and someone who does not get much playing time in Boston, a solid shooting guard in Alex Abrines who help a lot with Sacramento's shooting woes with the loss of Gay and how pitiful Ben McLemore has played in his career with Sacramento and finally they get a point guard they have shown interest in for a while now in Cameron Payne, who can grow with the team on his rookie deal as Sacramento has two impending free agent point guards in Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. For Boston. the Celtics are finally able to land DeMarcus Cousins and would instantly become a close favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals besides the Cleveland Cavaliers. With obtaining Cousins the Celtics allow Al Horford to slide over to his natural power forward position and they are able to retain their other key pieces in Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. The Celtics have a king's ransom worth of trade assets and should look to slide into a trade between Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Finally, for the Oklahoma City Thunder this trade would benefit them immensely in the hunt for a home court in the playoffs. Amir Johnson would be an instant upgrade at the power forward position and pair nicely with Steven Adams with is ability to stretch the floor. Omri Casspi would also be a solid acquisition for the Thunder as well as he has the ability to shoot the three-ball and assist off plays as well. This trade as mentioned before also allows Andre Roberson to slide over to his natural shooting guard position and allow Victor Oladipo to create off the bench in a sixth-man role.
Scenario #2 - Blake Griffin Returns to Oklahoma, Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles
With the signing of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee and head coach Jeff Hornacek, things looked on the up and up for the New York Knicks. But, there has been trouble in paradise with Rose disappearing on the team without any notice, Noah not playing up to his contract, Lee being relegated to the bench and star forward Carmelo Anthony becoming more and more frustrated with the team and general manager Phil Jackson. Things reached a boiling point a while ago and Jackson and Anthony had to meet to relieve some of the tension between the two. But, even after that, things seem like a lost cause for New York who should probably look towards the future and building around Kristaps Porzingis, their star power forward. If Anthony were to be traded he made it clear he wants to go to either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Clippers. Realistically, Cleveland would not touch Anthony due to the fact that they are far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference and their team chemistry is at an all-time high but Los Angeles would consider dealing for Anthony. The problem is the Clippers have too much money locked up on their big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. This is where Oklahoma City can step in and help bring Blake Griffin home to Oklahoma and bring the disgruntled Anthony to Los Angeles. Here is a proposed trade involving all three teams:
Source: Evan Dammarell
In this scenario the Los Angeles Clippers are able to shore up their long-time hole at the small forward position by obtaining Carmelo Anthony. But, they do lose their star power forward and Hollywood star in Blake Griffin. For New York, they are able to get rid of a disgruntled Anthony and his huge contract and obtain a solid starting center in Enes Kanter to help kick start a future tandem of Porzingis and Kanter. The Knicks also obtain a forward prospect in Brice Johnson as well. Finally, for Oklahoma City they instantly upgrade their power forward spot with one of the best at his position in Blake Griffin. They also are able to obtain a solid backup center in Kyle O'Quinn who can do a little bit of everything from the center position. The Thunder also can try and utilize Raymond Felton if Cameron Payne still struggles with his return from his foot fracture.
Scenario #3 - Butler to the Thunder, Anthony to the Bulls
Another trade scenario involving Carmelo Anthony that Anthony may consider is being sent off to the Chicago Bulls to play alongside friend Dwyane Wade. This trade seems like a long shot but there have been rumors circulating that the Bulls are also looking to move star small forward Jimmy Butler, and Oklahoma City is one of the teams interested in obtaining him. Here is a proposed Trade scenario involving Chicago, New York and Oklahoma City:
Source: Evan Dammarell
In this trade, the Knicks are again able to get rid of Carmelo Anthony and obtain a solid piece in Enes Kanter but they are also able to get back from Chicago a sharpshooting small forward in Doug McDermott. For Chicago they are able to get a star small forward in Carmelo Anthony, who has always played at a higher level with other superstars like Dwyane Wade. Finally, Oklahoma City is able to pull off a coup and secure a superstar small forward to pair next to Russell Westbrook and a solid power forward in Nikola Mirotic, who can space the floor for Oklahoma City. They also again obtain Kyle O'Quinn in this scenario who would be a solid backup center for Oklahoma City.
With the NBA trade deadline still a month away there is still plenty of speculation that will happen between now and February 23. With Rudy Gay going down to an Achilles tendon tear the market opened up a bit more for some major trades coming. Many analysts said that the Kyle Korver to Cleveland trade was the first domino to fall now the rest of the NBA waits with baited breath for what will happen next.