The Web site DraftExpress.com is reporting that the Thunder and Pistons might be engaged in trade discussions for a swap of first-round picks in a deal that would also send forward Amir Johnson to OKC.
The Thunder would send the No. 25 pick and cash to Detroit in exchange for Johnson and the 15th pick.
“With the Detroit Pistons looking to get as far under the salary cap as they can this summer, and the Oklahoma City Thunder being one of the few teams who are able to help them shed salary, the two teams have emerged as natural trade partners, multiple sources told DraftExpress this past weekend…Detroit is currently slated to be around 20 million dollars underneath the cap, but could shed another five million or so by unloading the contracts of Amir Johnson and their first-round pick. (#15). Enter the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are reportedly high on B.J. Mullens (as is Milwaukee), and likely would be able to nab him with the 15th pick. Considering how far under the cap they’ll be this summer, they would have no problem taking on Amir Johnson’s expiring 3.66 million dollar contract…”
MLive.com points out that Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars recently acknowledged such a move is a possibility as Detroit looks to rebuild this offseason.
And unlike many of the rumors that will be tossed out there this time of year, this one makes a lot of sense for both sides. For the Thunder it’s a chance to add a promising young player in Johnson, who still is only 22 but has four years of NBA experience and has been to the playoffs twice. I first mentioned Johnson as a possibility for the Thunder back in January.
OKC could also move up 10 spots in the draft and get a higher caliber player than it could land at 25, all without giving up much of anything. The Pistons, if they are in better position to go after players like Ben Gordon and Paul Millsap in free agency as the report suggests, seem likely to pull the trigger if it helps speed the restructuring of their roster.
Excuse me for adding to the speculation, but what if the Thunder does this deal in an attempt to collect more attractive pieces in hopes of putting together a better package for Blake Griffin? The Thunder could then offer the L.A. Clippers the No. 3, No. 15 and any number of sweeteners to try to get a deal done. Just saying.