4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Nobody understands the four-team trade that looped Steven Adams into the Jrue Holiday deal Friday night; don’t act like you do, it broke at like 2 in the morning and we’re all still delirious from staying up late trying to figure it out.
But Eric Bledsoe won’t be joining an Oklahoma City Thunder squad that already has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and George Hill, and Sam Presti could flip anyone who isn’t SGA for more draft assets at the drop of a dime. He is Scrooge McDuck, and the mountains of gold coins are his extra first-rounders. Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. were Thunder players for less than a week before being flipped elsewhere; chances are Presti wouldn’t hesitate to move Hill, Wall or even the recently acquired Al Horford if he thought they could net him yet another draft pick.
Horford is more difficult, because as a recently traded player, he cannot be packaged with any other players; only draft assets. That’s also perfect for a team like the Wizards and a suitor like OKC; not only is Washington shedding salary for next season by dropping from Wall’s $41.3 million to Horford’s $27.5 million, but that one-for-one trade actually works financially too.
While trading both Horford and Steven Adams away would leave OKC without a starting-caliber big man, that’s okay; this team is clearly tanking for the immediate future. They’ll make do, but Presti’s “Precious” right now is any and all draft picks he can get his hands on.
The Wizards own all of their first-rounders for the immediate future, but they’re trying to put a playoff team around Beal sooner rather than later given that he’s 27 and probably not enjoying toiling away on losing teams in D.C. Sacrificing one pick to get Wall off the books and bring in a well-respected veteran like Horford would be well worth it.
The league seems to be down on Horford’s true value right now because he didn’t fit in alongside a touch-dominant Joel Embiid on a roster with zero spacing at age 34. Don’t be fooled; Horford may not be an All-Star anymore, but a young, playoff-hungry team like the Wizards would absolutely benefit from his presence — and that’s without even including the main benefit of mercifully getting Wall off the books.
Maybe Presti prefers to keep one respected veteran around for the younglings, and maybe a guy like Horford doesn’t interest Sheppard. But it works financially, Presti is on the prowl for picks and such a swap would be mutually beneficial. It’s not like an All-Star point guard like Wall would be bad for SGA’s development, after all.