As the Oklahoma City Thunder prepare for the upcoming NBA offseason, there are quite a few questions surrounding the franchise. Sam Presti may have backed himself in between a rock and a hard place with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last offseason. George looks like he could be on his way out of town in free agency, while Anthony has a massive contract option that he is expected to accept.
Assuming Anthony does opt-in to his contract, the Thunder will not have much room to make more moves. Bringing George back is the top priority this offseason, but if they are unable to do so, they will need to look around for a new small forward.
Bleacher Report has an idea that would make perfect sense for the Thunder. They have stated that Trevor Ariza would be one of the best free agency targets that Oklahoma City could pursue.
Ariza has been a key piece for the Houston Rockets this season. He has had some big games throughout the playoffs as well and would be a great addition to the Thunder. While he may not be able to impact the game as much as George, he does play a fairly similar game.
Throughout the 2017-18 season, Ariza ended up averaging 11.7 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 steals. He shot 41.2 percent from the field overall and knocked down 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Ariza may not have massive numbers, but he is more than capable of taking a bigger role elsewhere if the situation is right.
If he were to sign with the Thunder, Oklahoma City would ask him to be a deadly spot-up shooter. Russell Westbrook found George on kick out after kick out this season. That kind of role would fit Ariza perfectly.
Oklahoma City will also need to find a new lockdown perimeter defender if George leaves. Ariza has been known to be a good defender throughout his entire career.
At 32 years of age, Ariza is coming down to the end of his prime years. Sticking with the Rockets would likely be his first choice, but the Rockets may not be willing to offer him the kind of contract that he wants. Oklahoma City might have to get creative, but if George leaves they will be looking to make an aggressive move for a guy like Ariza.
Expect to see Ariza receive quite a bit of interest this offseason. He is the type of “Three-and-D” player that every team likes to have on the roster.
Oklahoma City may not end up being his landing spot in free agency, but they certainly would make sense if George signs elsewhere.