NBA Trade Grades: 76ers dealing Al Horford and picks to Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have added Al Horford and multiple picks from the Philadelphia 76ers.

As we covered extensively this morning, the Oklahoma City Thunder are starting a new NBA Cold War, only instead of stockpiling nuclear missiles, this arms race revolves around extra draft picks.

It appears as though general manager Sam Presti just added more firepower to his arsenal.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder have agreed to a trade revolving around Al Horford. In addition to the veteran big man, the Philadelphia 76ers are also sending over a lightly protected 2025 first-round pick, the 34th overall pick in this year’s draft and the rights to Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic, who is considered one of Europe’s best point guards.

In return, the Sixers will receive Danny Green, who was just traded to the Thunder from the Los Angeles Lakers a few days ago, and Terrance Ferguson.

Thunder Get
Al Horford
No. 34 pick
Protected 2025 1st round pick
Rights to Vasilije Micic
76ers Get
Danny Green
Terrance Ferguson

The question is, with the Sixers desperately needing to shed Horford’s salary and the Thunder continuing to prey on other teams’ needs as they build up their mountainous pile of draft picks, how did each side fare in this exchange? Here are the latest NBA Trade Grades to sort it out.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Presti continues to work wonders, adding another future first-rounder and a second-rounder in this year’s draft to his ever-expanding pile of assets. While the 34th pick in this year’s weaker draft class may not sound like much, OKC now owns the 25th pick (via the Jerami Grant trade with the Denver Nuggets in 2019), the 28th pick (via the Dennis Schroder trade with the Lakers earlier this week) and the 34th pick.

That opens up the possibility of the Thunder packaging those three picks to move up in the pecking order. Even in the “worst-case” scenario where no trade suitor emerges, that’s still three fliers he can take on youngsters with team-friendly contracts for a roster undergoing a full-scale rebuild. This draft doesn’t have a lot of franchise-altering talent, but there is enough depth to add a capable contributor or two down the line.

Much like this year’s pick, adding a lightly protected future first-rounder that’s five years down the road doesn’t sound very enticing, but every little bit helps — especially if the Sixers are unable to figure things out with their current core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Who knows what that team will look like five years from now?

The draft compensation is the main benefit to this trade, but don’t overlook Horford’s potential value to OKC either. While the 34-year-old veteran can’t be pleased about being dumped to a rebuilding franchise, he’s still got a lot of wisdom to impart on the Thunder’s youngsters. His fit with Steven Adams may be problematic, but that’s assuming Presti isn’t trying to wheel and deal one (or both) of them for more assets.

With three years and $81 million left on Horford’s contract, it’s unlikely other teams will be interested in trading for him unless he immediately bounces back with the Thunder. Coming off a down year with Philly, where he averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game on .450/.350/.763 shooting splits, he’ll need to revive his trade value like Chris Paul did last season. That’s a dicey proposition, but at the price of an extra first- and second-round pick, it’s worth it for a rebuilding team like OKC to absorb the ugly contract of a well-respected veteran.

As for Micic, who was drafted by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2014 draft, it’s entirely possible he never comes over to play in the NBA. But he’s also still only 26 years old, and the 2020-21 season is his last under contract with Anadolu Efes in the Turkish league.

Green was fully expendable, and Ferguson — though young at age 22 — wasn’t looking like he was going to pan out in Oklahoma City with Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley stepping into the spotlight. Sam Presti, you’ve done it again.

Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers

While this trade obviously plays right into Presti’s hands, Daryl Morey’s first move as the Sixers’ new team president is still a good one. Shedding the remaining three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract was a necessity, and though Tobias Harris’ mega-deal is still clogging up the books, freeing up even that bit of salary will give Philly a little more flexibility moving forward.

Danny Green is set to make $15.4 million this season, but he’s an expiring contract, and a useful one at that — the Sixers desperately need help on the wing, which he can definitely provide as a 3-and-D player with championship experience on three different title-winning teams.

Green had a rough season with the Lakers, averaging just 8.0 points per game on 36.7 percent shooting from 3-point range — acceptable, but nowhere near his career mark of 40 percent. His impact extends far beyond the box score, though, since Green is an intelligent two-way player whose defensive versatility on the perimeter was intrinsic to the Lakers’ smothering defense.

The Sixers need established two-way veterans exactly like him, and if he can be a touch more efficient from long range, Philly’s offense will really benefit from the added floor-spacing he brings to the table.

As for Ferguson, the young wing got lost in the shuffle last season. He showed promise as an NBA sophomore, averaging 6.9 points in 26.1 minutes per game on 36.6 percent 3-point shooting, but his numbers plummeted to 3.9 points in 22.4 minutes a night on 29.9 percent 3-point shooting last year as Dort and Bazley emerged.

Even so, the Sixers will trade Horford’s age and poor fit for a young flier like Ferguson any day, especially with an established 3-and-D wing like Green ready to help them contend in the here and now. Even if Ferguson doesn’t impress this year, he’ll be fairly easy to get rid of as a restricted free agent in 2021.

Giving up a first-rounder five years down the road is risky, especially with the shaky ground the Sixers’ superstar tandem is currently operating on, but Morey is known for building perennial playoff teams. There’s a decent chance that pick doesn’t wind up holding much value, and the 34th pick in this year’s draft was fully expendable since the 76ers still have a first-round selection at No. 21, on top of three other second-rounders at Nos. 36, 49 and 58.

Grade: B+