Current NBA trade rumors are centering on the Oklahoma City Thunder adding talent to their roster now that Russell Westbrook has signed a three-year contract extension with the team.
According to the Parent Herald, one of the players Oklahoma City would like to acquire is Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward. In looking at the rosters of both the Thunder and the Jazz, a deal that revolves around Enes Kanter would seem most likely.
Kanter is a very good center, particularly on the offensive end, and he would fill a need for the Utah Jazz. Rudy Gobert, Utah’s current starting center, has done a nice job for the Jazz. However, he is more of a defensive-minded player, and Enes Kanter would compliment him well since Kanter is more of a scoring weapon in the lane. Kanter also played three seasons and part of a fourth with the Jazz to begin his NBA career, so this trade could reunite Kanter and the Utah organization. It would be an easier transition as the Jazz and Kanter had a good run together from 2011-2015.
NBA Trade Rumors: OKC Thunder Eyeing Jazz's Gordon Hayward And Hawk's Paul Millsap As Russell Westbrook's ... https://t.co/sN3jxRbEGk— Gordon Hayward (@HaywardDaily) August 8, 2016
Gordon Hayward is a fine all-around player, and by most accounts, he would be considered a star at this point in his career. Hayward is a small forward, which is the weak spot in the projected Oklahoma City starting lineup. By acquiring a player of Hayward’s caliber to upgrade the small forward position, the Thunder would become instant contenders in the Western Conference race next season. This deal would add some intrigue to the upcoming rivalry between the Russell Westbrook-led Thunder and the Golden State Warriors, featuring former Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant (as detailed by KOCO-TV).
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Gordon Hayward was the ninth player chosen in the 2010 NBA Draft after leading the “Cinderella” Butler Bulldogs to the NCAA Championship Game that season. Coming into the NBA, some questioned whether Hayward was truly worth a top ten selection, or if he was over-hyped due to the media attention gained by Butler’s improbable run in the NCAA Tournament. Six years later, there seems to be no doubt that Gordon Hayward is the real deal.
Hayward is coming off one of his best years as a pro, averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game for the Jazz in 2015-16. He has multiple skills in his bag of tricks, including long-range shooting (36 percent three-point shooting for his career), an ability to finish plays around the rim and a very reliable mid-range game. Hayward is a solid rebounder and a proficient passer for a small forward, as well.
Enes Kanter entered the NBA as a bit of a mystery. He signed to play basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats, but he was ruled permanently ineligible due to benefits he received while playing for a European team as a teenager. Despite the lack of college basketball exposure, Kanter was drafted third overall by Utah in the 2011 NBA Draft. He has proven to be an effective low-post scorer and a prolific rebounder in the NBA, although there are some questions about his play on the defensive end of the floor.
Kanter’s most productive stretch came during his partial season with Oklahoma City in 2015. In his first 26 games with the Thunder, Kanter started every game and posted 18.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest. Oklahoma City moved Kanter to a role off the bench last year, but he played well with reduced minutes, averaging 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in only 21 minutes per game.
Now that it is well-established that Oklahoma City is a buyer rather than a seller this off-season, NBA trade rumors are floating around that the Thunder are targeting Gordon Hayward in an attempt to give the team more ammunition to challenge Golden State in the Western Conference.
Do you think Gordon Hayward would help Westbrook and the Thunder get over the hump against the best teams in the conference?
[Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]