The NBA free agency has officially begun with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns striking first. The Thunder sent Chris Paul and Abdel Nader over to the Suns in exchange for Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick. It is just another one of the blockbusting trades OKC has been involved with over the past year. While we thought last year would be the end of OKC relevancy they have somehow managed to stay afloat with CP3. Let’s take a deeper dive into how this team has done it year after year.
James Harden: 2014
It all starts way back when OKC was at the peak. They had just come off of a championship run and had some decisions to make heading into the offseason. 3 of their star players were in need of contracts and the Thunder elected to go with Serge Ibaka and Russel Westbrook. This led to James Harden being traded to the Rockets because Harden wanted more the OKC could offer him. Presti and OKC took this opportunity to grab Jermey Lamb, Kevin Martin, and two first round picks. This was all for a player that came of the bench for OKC.
The Summer of 2016
Some of the darkest times for many Thunder fans and the younger NBA fans across the world. The Thunder had just come off a conference championship loss, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors. A great season for any team to just make it to that point. OKC would then go on and trade Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Number 11 pick Domantas Sabonis. Then on July 7th, 2016 Kevin Durant became a Golden State Warrior. Joining the team the Thunder just lost to, causing an uproar in the NBA community. Shortly after this most fans thought we would see the Thunder give up and start rebuilding. Once again we were proven wrong. OKC would go on to finish 6th in the Western conference and Russel Westbrook would win the MVP.
MVP Russel Westbrook would draw in Paul George to want to go to OKC. The Thunder organization would use their recently acquired picks to move PG to OKC. Trading away Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers. They also traded away Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. Once again bringing a big 3 back to OKC.
This one was probably the top 3 hardest to watch for OKC fans as the Thunder fell in 6 games to the Jazz. It was a hard-fought series and had the Thunder in the game for many parts of it. In the offseason, Presti and co took advantage of those draft picks and sent Carmelo out and brought Dennis Schroder in. Which once again gave OKC hopes to compete again and bring another playoff appearance to the city once again. Unfortunately, this would bring in one of the most traumatic plays in franchise history.
You know what it looks like but here is the clip of it anyway. The man took down the Thunder one a ridiculous shot from way outside. This would be the final straw for Paul George as in the offseason he asked for a trade out of OKC and to the Clippers. Once again Presti used the bright side of this awful scenario and set OKC up for the future. The Thunder would give the Clippers Paul George and the Clipper would give the Thunder a lot.
Then the Thunder tells Westbrook that they are rebuilding and can look to trade him. Russel accepts and they ship him to Houston to team up with former teammate James Harden. Then acquired Chris Paul, two more first-rounders, two more pick swaps, and cash. Then CP3 went on to have an All-Star year and bring OKC to the playoffs again before falling to Houston in 7 games. Another underestimated OKC team proving everyone wrong.
Lastly is the most recent move shipping Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns and bringing back another load of players. The Thunder received veteran presence from Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. Then they got 2 players from the 2019 class in Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque. Then just to top it off the Thunder received another first-round pick, this time for 2022. Here is the list of assets the Thunder have acquired.
This is an absolutely ridiculous list for teams that could be heading into choppy water. The Rockets for example might lose James and Russell this offseason. That could lead to the Rocket having a possible lottery pick. There is plenty of excitement as a fan of basketball to see this team continue to grow and collect picks. The amount of young talent this team will have throughout the next few years will be phenomenal. And a large part is thanks to Sam Presti who has done a great job. In fact, I think he will go down as the greatest GM of all time from all perspectives including the players. Overall he has everyone watching what OKC will do this year.
Top Picture by OKC Thunder