Recent NBA trade rumors have focused on whether Kevin Durant will stay in Oklahoma City or if the Thunder would risk possibly losing him for nothing in the offseason. While there is no telling what is going to happen this summer, one thing that is for sure is that Durant will not be traded.
That said, OKC needs to make a move before the league’s trade deadline at 2 p.m. on February 18 if the Thunder are to have any legitimate desires of challenging for an NBA title this year. The Thunder (40-14) are one of just three teams currently to have 40 victories at the All-Star break and are in the process of running away with the Northwest Division crown, however, they are nine games behind Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference.
OKC has two stars in Durant and Russell Westbrook and a strong inside presence in Serge Ibaka, Enes Kantner, and Steven Adams. Their biggest area of concern is at shooting guard and wing depth; more specifically the Thunder need a wing player who can play at both ends of the floor. The Thunder also struggle with turnovers and are just average defensively.
Andre Roberson, who has missed the past nine games with a sore knee, is currently the starter at shooting guard, but he is strictly a defensive player. The 24-year old is averaging 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 21 minutes of action. He is shooting 49.5 percent from the field but is taking only four shots a game, with most of them coming from within 10 feet of the basket, as he is not much of a threat from the perimeter – Roberson has connected on 17-of-62 attempts from beyond the arc.
Dion Waiters is the Thunder’s sixth man, and he has the potential to light up the scoreboard on any given night but is inconsistent. He also has the habit of taking bad shots and is more of slasher. Waiters has tallied double-figures 26 times and is averaging 9.9 points a game while shooting 40.1 percent from the field. Anthony Morrow is a shooter who can put some points on the board when he gets hot, but he is only an adequate defender.
The Thunder are second in the NBA in scoring, with 110.1 points a game, and second in the league in rebounding. The Thunder are one of the best shooting teams, percentage wise, as they are shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, but Durant is the only consistent three-point shooter.
Durant leads the team with 115 triples and is shooting 39.4 percent from long distance. Westbrook is second on the squad with 64 three-pointers, but he is shooting less than 30 percent from long range. Morrow has canned 58 three-pointers and is shooting a team best 40.6 percent from deep while Waiters is the only other player to average at least one three-pointer a contest and he is shooting only 35.6 from distance. Steve Novak is perhaps the team’s best three-point shooter but is an end-of-the-bench emergency only option right now.
There are several players that could be available via trade that can provide exactly what the Thunder needs such as Minnesota’s Kevin Martin and Milwaukee’s Jerryd Bayless. Other players that fit the 3-and-D mode that OKC is looking for include Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer from Houston along with Washington’s Jared Dudley and Gary Neal, Denver’s Randy Foye, Phoenix’s PJ Tucker, and Memphis’ Courtney Lee.
Martin is a good shooter. However, he has struggled this year – averaging 11.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting from the field. The 33-year old possesses the size that the Thunder want in a wing but isn’t particularly a strong defender. Minnesota has been trying to find someone to take Martin off their hands but to no avail due to his massive contract according to Fansided.
Bayless has reached double-figures in three-of-his last five games and averages 10.6 points while making 43.6 percent from beyond the arc. The 27-year old makes $3 million and is not a great defender.
The Oklahoman reported that it is unlikely the Thunder will trade for either Ariza or Brewer since each are due $23.4 million over the next three seasons.
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[photo by Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press]