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Thoughts on the Thunder’s Deadline Deals

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm •  Published: February 21, 2013

Some thoughts on the deadline-day deals made by the Thunder.

  • All any fan can ask for on days like this is for their team to make an effort to get better. The Thunder did that.
  • It doesn’t matter how big or small the deals were. All the matters is the Thunder seized an opportunity to improve. A championship caliber team got better without relinquishing anything of substance, in the short term or the long term. In my book, you score that a win.
  • OKC had too many assets to not do something. Emphasis on something. While you don’t make trades just to make trades, it would have been a pretty big head-scratcher had the Thunder not moved Eric Maynor and not attempted to improve its second unit. That’s putting it kindly. It’s been well-documented that this team needs help in a few different areas. Passing on this opportunity to target one of those areas would have been a mistake.
  • To recap: Maynor was sent to Portland for a trade exception and the rights to Greek forward Georgios Printezis. The Thunder, in a separate deal, then acquired Ronnie Brewer from New York for the Thunder’s 2014 second round pick and cash.
  • Don’t ask me who Georgios Printezis is. I have no clue.
  • So, what is a trade exception?
  • The easiest way to understand a trade exception is to think of it as a credit. It allows a team that is over the salary cap to acquire salary in a future trade without having to match salaries as teams typically must do under league rules. A salary can only be acquired for up to the amount of the exception. The exception expires after one calendar year.
  • The exception the Thunder received from the Maynor trade is for roughly $2.5 million. That means from July 1 through next year’s trade deadline OKC can acquire a player at that price and not have to make the salaries match.
  • The most notable occurrence of the Thunder using a trade exception came when the franchise was in Seattle. GM Sam Presti sent Rashard Lewis to Orlando for a future second round pick and about an $8 million trade exception. Presti a week and a half later then acquired Kurt Thomas and two future first round picks from Phoenix in exchange for that same second round pick and trade exception acquired in the Lewis deal with Orlando. The Sonics were able to take on Thomas’ contract solely because of the exception. The future picks turned into Serge Ibaka (2008) and Quincy Pondexter (2010), who was later packaged to get Cole Aldrich.
  • Here’s another way to look at the trade exception received in the Maynor deal. It effectively extends the lifespan of Maynor as an asset. If the Thunder didn’t trade Maynor today, he likely would have walked in free agency this summer. The Thunder would have lost him for nothing. But by trading Maynor now and getting the exception, the Thunder essentially gets another year to get something (there’s that word again) for him, theoretically of course. It beats getting a measly mid-second round pick. It’s a pretty shrewd move.
  • Presti on the Maynor deal in a statement released by the team: “The opportunity to acquire a trade exception was important to us strategically as it gives us the roster flexibility that we value.”
  • You know Brewer. Even if you don’t. You’ve seen him before. Even if you haven’t. Brewer basically is Thabo Sefolosha. He’s another defensive-oriented player with limited offense. You’ll love his hustle plays, his perimeter defense and his willingness to do the dirty work. Sound familiar?
  • Brewer is a career 25.7 percent 3-point shooter. You won’t love that.
  • Brewer is 27. He’s on a one-year veteran-minimum contract that pays him slightly more than $850,000. He’s a typical low-risk, high-reward Thunder pick-up.
  • Brewer is 6-7 and is in his seventh season after stops with Utah, Memphis and Chicago.
  • In a statement, Presti called Brewer a “defensive-minded player” and a “high-character person.”
  • Just how low is the risk on Brewer? The Thunder’s second round pick in 2014 has a good chance of being the 60th and final selection.
  • To drill home that last point, the Thunder just got a former 14th overall selection, a seven-year veteran and a proven rotational player who has started 301 of his 464 games for what could be the last pick in the draft.
  • A few nuggets that I came across while working the phones today: a deal was on the table to send Maynor to Toronto. It’s unclear what the Raptors would have sent back this way, but the proposal was nixed by a third party and the Raptors ultimately acquired Sebastian Telfair today. Also, the Thunder never had much interest in Jermaine O’Neal for various reasons. Even if he is waived by Phoenix, don’t expect the Thunder to enter the free agent fray for his services. With forward Kenyon Martin landing in New York, it’s likely O’Neal could wind up in Miami. If that scenario plays out, it not only would be a lost opportunity for the Thunder but also a bigger blow as O’Neal would land on OKC’s chief rival and make the Thunder’s chance at a championship that much more challenging if a Finals rematch does indeed take shape. Lastly, there were no All-Star break conversations between the Thunder and Suns on a Kendrick Perkins-Marcin Gortat swap as one report out of Arizona claimed earlier this week. Utterly untrue from what I heard today.
  • It’s a shame the Thunder has no interest in O’Neal. Imagine a second unit of Reggie Jackson, Kevin Martin, Brewer, Nick Collison and O’Neal. All five probably wouldn’t play significant minutes as the Thunder gets deeper and deeper into the playoffs. But think about how nice it would be to have the luxury of going 10 deep.
  • Speaking of depth, the Thunder is now eight deep. That’s probably the amount Scott Brooks truly trusts after today’s deals: the starting five, K-Mart, Collison and Brewer.
  • Expect the Thunder to explore options to bring in a third point guard. By trading Maynor, the Thunder is left with only Russell Westbrook and Jackson at the position. Someone will soon be brought in to bolster the position. The cutoff for players to be waived by other teams and be eligible for the playoffs is March 1. Keep that date in mind. I doubt we see a signing before then, just so the team can properly weigh all its options.
  • Ronnie Brewer is on Twitter. Follow him @RonnieBrewerJr.
  • Maynor with a classy farewell tweet. The guy was all class throughout his stay and subsequent frustration-filled season. It couldn’t have been easy for him battling back from the knee injury, playing below his standards and, finally, having his job taken. But he handled it all with professionalism. Got to tip your cap to him for that.
  • It’s a business and trades happen. But when Maynor said he wanted to be here, he really, really wanted to be here. From everything I know, he loved being with this organization. And unlike some of his teammates, Maynor, remember, started elsewhere. He’s seen the shade of grass on the other side. He knew exactly what he had here. It’s a shame a player who genuinely wanted to be here had to be let go.
  • Not a happy camper: Kevin Durant.
  • Don’t expect Brewer to play Friday. He’s got to get to town, pass a physical, get his jersey, etc., etc. I suspect he’ll suit up Sunday against Chicago.
  • Adding Brewer makes the Thunder better equipped to deal with Miami in a potential Finals rematch, whether its the Thunder going small or simply throwing another capable defender at LeBron.
  • Adding Brewer also almost certainly bumps DeAndre Liggins out of the rotation. It’s a sad, sad day for those of us who were running the DeAndre Liggins bandwagon. But we fought the good fight.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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