OKC Thunder Could Dump Al Horford To Pelicans For Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe & Draft Picks

Al Horford bringing down the ball
Gettyimages | Mitchell Leff
Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder center Al Horford is one of the veteran big men who are expected to be available on the trading block in the 2021 offseason. That should no longer surprise anyone as since the Philadelphia 76ers sent him to the Thunder, nobody expects Oklahoma City to be his permanent stop. With the Thunder currently in the middle of the rebuilding process, keeping a 34-year-old center doesn't make any sense.

However, finding a team that is willing to absorb Horford's contract would be a tough challenge for the Thunder in the 2021 offseason.

Potential Trade Partner For Al Horford: New Orleans Pelicans

Al Horford trying to score against Jarrett Allen
Gettyimages | Sarah Stier

If the Thunder are still expecting to get something in return for Horford, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report suggested that they should give the New Orleans Pelicans' front office a call in the 2021 offseason. However, to persuade the Pelicans to give them some of their future draft assets for Horford, the Thunder should be willing to accept "some burdensome contracts."

In the proposed trade scenario by Bailey, the Pelicans would be sending Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for Horford.

Pelicans Add Experience And Floor Spacing

Al Horford shooting the ball from the perimeter
Gettyimages | Pool

Targeting an aging big man may not be an ideal move for the Pelicans. However, Bailey believes that swapping Adams for a floor-spacing center like Horford would help the Pelicans maximize Zion Williamson's potential on the court.

"The New Orleans offense soared to new heights when Williamson was given more playmaking responsibility, and maximizing that approach will probably require a more spread floor. Adams is great around the paint, but he also clogs it. Horford, on the other hand, could spend most offensive possessions at the three-point line."

Al Horford Boosts Pelicans' Performance On Both Ends

Horford's arrival in New Orleans could help the Pelicans improve their performance on both ends of the floor in the 2021-22 NBA season. Aside from being a legitimate three-point threat, he would also give them a reliable scorer under the basket, a great rebounder, on-court facilitator, and rim protector.

This season, the 34-year-old center averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, ESPN.

The Pelicans would also get some benefit from trading Bledsoe to the Thunder. With Bledsoe gone, they could give more playing time to young guards such as Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr.

OKC Thunder Get More Future Draft Assets

Like what they did to Chris Paul last summer, the proposed trade deal would once again enable the Thunder to unload an aging veteran for future draft selections. The Thunder shouldn't mind not obtaining salary cap flexibility since their current focus is the development of their young players.

Also, though his deal has the same length as Horford, only $3.9 million of Bledsoe's $19.4 million salary is guaranteed in the 2022-23 NBA season. Meanwhile, compared to Horford, rerouting Adams to another team would be easier for the Thunder. He's not only seven years younger than Horford, but he's also on a much friendlier deal.