The Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the best teams in the NBA last season and nearly knocked off the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Everything appeared to be heading the right direction for them, until Kevin Durant decided to betray his team and sign with the Warriors in free agency.
Looking ahead at the 2016-17 NBA season, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Thunder. Russell Westbrook is capable of stepping up and being the go-to guy, but he needs more help around him.
Oklahoma City will have to scour the trade market in order to bring in a piece or two that can help them stay relevant in the West. One player that could make a lot of sense for the Thunder is Sacramento Kings’ small forward, Rudy Gay.
According to a report from Marc Stein of ESPN, Gay is available for trade and the Kings are motivated to move him ahead of the season if possible.
Last season with the Kings, Gay ended up averaging 17.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He shot 46.3 percent from the field overall and knocked down 34.4 percent of his three-point attempts. Those numbers would look nice alongside of Westbrook and would give the superstar point guard a legitimate No. 2 option.
At 29-years-old, Gay still has plenty of basketball left in him. He has a player option on his contract for the 2017-18 season, which makes it very likely that he will opt out and get a bigger deal in free agency. No matter what he decides to do with the player option, he would be a huge pickup for the Thunder this year.
Gay has not been asked to handle a huge load of the scoring during his tenure with the Kings. He is capable of putting up much bigger scoring numbers if he gets put in a position where he has to be the No. 2 guy behind Westbrook.
Taking a look at the current Thunder roster, there are some pieces that will help keep them in playoff contention. Victor Oladipo was acquired from the Orlando Magic in the trade that sent Serge Ibaka out of town. They were also able to snag Ersan Ilyasova in the deal, which adds solid depth.
Steven Adams and Enes Kanter will anchor the frontcourt for the Thunder. Kanter is more than capable of handling a larger scoring load next season and should have a major breakout season.
Bringing Gay on board would give the Thunder another scorer, but most of all a decent perimeter defender. He won’t be able to shut down any of the stars at the small forward position, but he can make things a bit more difficult on players like Durant and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. If the Thunder can motivate Gay to work hard defensively, he could be a major issue for opposing scorers.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Thunder this offseason. They have to make a move to respond to the moves that the teams around them have made. Durant moving to Golden State makes them the obvious front-runner to win the NBA Finals.
Presti has to bring in talent to surround Westbrook if he wants to have any chance at re-signing him long-term. Adding a piece like Gay would help them get to that point, although it still might not be enough.
Do you think the Oklahoma City Thunder should look to acquire Rudy Gay from the Sacramento Kings? Would he help them stay relevant in the Western Conference? Let us know your thoughts on the potential trade in the comment box below!
[Photo by AP Photo/David Zalubowski]