By transferring Dennis Schroder and Chris Paul in quick succession in recent days, the Oklahoma City Thunder has clearly moved into the era of reconstruction. An era that had already started with the trades of Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2019, and which is confirmed more than ever at the end of 2020. In this project rebuild, Sam Presti has accumulated a huge number ofassets, especially in draft choice. We take stock.
We had to ask ourselves at some point to take stock of the draft choices accumulated by Thunder boss Sam Presti because we can quickly get lost. But before this long recap, it seems necessary to take a quick look in the retro to go back to the main stages of this destruction / reconstruction, just to really understand how the Oklahoma City franchise got to this point. Following yet another defeat in the first round during the 2019 Playoffs and with the possibility of returning home to Los Angeles with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George had asked internally to be transferred. If we are to believe Brian Windhorst ofESPN, an agreement in principle existed between the Thunder and PG, an agreement leaving the door open to a potential transfer despite the contract extension signed in 2018. Result, when George went to see Presti to ask his trade to the Clippers, the general manager of ‘OKC negotiated with the Los Angeles franchise, fully intending to get a big reward. And we can say that he capitalized following Paulo’s caliber MVP campaign, including collecting the nugget Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first-round draft picks (!) and two pick swaps in the first round (as well as veteran Danilo Gallinari). Behind, it is the face of the franchise Russell Westbrook who packed his bags for Houston, the Thunder recovering the very heavy contract of Chris Paul but with in the lot… guess what… two first round draft picks and two pick swaps (also in the first round). Additionally, in the same offseason, Jerami Grant was also transferred to Denver for a first-round pick.
That was the first big step. And after a season as beautiful as it was unexpected in 2019-20, with a qualification in the Playoffs as a bonus, Sam Presti is currently in the process of continuing his work. Dennis Schroder has just been sent to the Lakers (it is pending formalization) against Danny Green and the 28th LAL pick in the 2020 Draft, while Chris Paul, whose odds have largely risen after an All-level campaign. Star and one year less on his very big deal, is now a Phoenix Sun, the Thunder notably recovering the young and talented winger Kelly Oubre Jr. as well as a first round of Draft 2022 (in addition to Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque). So to recap, roughly: after the transfer of Paul George, which allowed Sam Presti to recover a huge consideration to perfectly launch the rebuilding process, Thunder’s GM managed to get rid of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul’s monstrous contracts, in addition to reclaiming first-round picks. And today, here is the ammunition Oklahoma City has in the Draft. Be careful, the list is very long.
- 25th choice in the 2020 Draft
- 28th choice in the 2020 Draft
- 53rd choice in the 2020 Draft
- His own first-round pick in the 2021 Draft
- The Heat’s first-round choice in the 2021 Draft (+ possibility of swap with the Rockets, Top 4 protected)
- His own second-round choice in the 2021 Draft
- His own first-round choice in the 2022 Draft (if he is in the Top 14)
- The Clippers’ first-round pick in the 2022 Draft
- The Suns’ first-round pick in Draft 2022 (protected 1-12 in 2022, 1-10 in 2023, 1-8 in 2024 and unprotected in 2025)
- His own second-round choice in the 2022 Draft
- His own first-round choice in Draft 2023 (+ possibility of swap with the Clippers)
- The Heat’s first-round choice in Draft 2023 (protected 1-14 from 2023 to 2025, unprotected in 2026)
- His own second-round choice in the 2023 Draft
- His own first-round pick in the 2024 Draft
- The Clippers’ first-round pick in the 2024 Draft
- The Rockets’ first-round pick at Draft 2024 (Top 4 protected, can turn into two second-round picks in 2024 and 2025)
- His own second-round choice in the 2024 Draft
- The Grizzlies’ second-round pick in the 2024 Draft
- His own first-round choice in Draft 2025 (+ possibility of swap with the Clippers and Rockets, Top 10 protected for Houston)
- His own second round choice in Draft 2025
- His own first-round pick in Draft 2026
- The Clippers’ first choice in the 2026 Draft
- The Rockets’ first choice in Draft 2026 (protected Top 4, can turn into a second round choice in 2026 + 1 million in cash)
- His own second-round choice in Draft 2026
That will be all.
Obviously, the number of draft picks is crazy for the years to come. And when we know the Thunder’s ability to find young talent and develop them, we say to ourselves that OKC can build something very serious, especially when we know that the franchise already has a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in its ranks (without forgetting the Darius Bazleys, Luguentz Dort and now Kelly Oubre Jr., who has just arrived). Whether he’s picking prospects or using certain draft picks to scavenge items in different deals, Sam Presti is definitely having a lot of fun. The possibilities are enormous, the base is quite incredible, in the Thunder to use all that ammunition at best to become a heavyweight of the Western Conference again.
Dreamed of having the Thunder’s draft pick list for the next six years? She’s there. It’s crazy, but it’s management version Sam Presti. And from a financial point of view, today only one big salary remains at OKC, namely the 27 million Steven Adams, who will jump after the 2020-21 season at the latest.
Text source: oklahoman.com, hoopsrumors.com, NBA.com