The Oklahoma City Thunder boast three first-round selections in the 2021 NBA Draft, including the sixth overall pick. Pretty much in rebuild mode since trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2019, Oklahoma City also has a ton of future first-round picks.
It now might be time for general manager Sam Presti to strike as a way to find another running partner for stud young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, that could include striking a blockbuster trade during the draft later this week. The NBA insider notes that Oklahoma City has been active in looking to trade up from the sixth pick for either Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley.
More so than any other team around the Association, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the capability of pulling off a trade of this ilk. However, adding Cunningham to the mix would likely require moving all the way up to the No. 1 pick with the Detroit Pistons. With the Houston Rockets pretty much a lock to take Jalen Green at two, Oklahoma City would then likely have to move up three with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mobley.
How would an Oklahoma City Thunder blockbuster NBA Draft trade look?
We must note off the bat that it’s highly unlikely Detroit moves off the first pick. While up-and-coming general manager Troy Weaver has considered trade-down scenarios, the team’s brass appears to be set on Cunningham.
Even then, Oklahoma City could wow with the Pistons with a trade offer they might not be able to decline. That would include all three first-round picks in 2021 (6th, 16th and 18th). From there, the Thunder offer up multiple future first-round picks. The question here becomes whether Presti and Co. think that much capital is worth trading up for the unproven Cunningham.
The likelier scenario here is that Oklahoma City entices the Cavaliers at three in a move up for Evan Mobley. The center would be an absolutely tremendous fit as an inside-out duo with Gilgeous-Alexander. Cleveland is also more willing to move off the third pick with compensation being less than OKC trading up for the top selection.
Even after acquiring Kemba Walker in a trade with the Boston Celtics earlier this summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder are projected to have $46.7 million in cap room. They could entice Cleveland by taking on Kevin Love’s bloated contract while offering up the sixth pick, an additional 2021 first-round pick and some future compensation. Here’s how that hypothetical deal might look.
- Oklahoma City Thunder get: Third pick, Kevin Love
- Cleveland Cavaliers get: Sixth pick, 16th pick, future protected first-round pick
In reality, this might make sense for both sides. Cleveland is desperate to rid itself of Love’s contract. Oklahoma City has the cash to take on said deal. By moving down just a few spots in the top-10, the Cavaliers pick up a mid first-round selection and a protected future first-round pick.
In turn, the Thunder add yet another potential franchise cornerstone in Mobley to team up with Gilgeous-Alexander while not giving up too much future draft capital.