The lightly productive but always entertaining Hasheem Thabeet era in Oklahoma City has come to an end.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Thunder traded its third-string center to Philadelphia for a $1.25 million trade exception. OKC also received a 2015 second-round pick in the deal, but it is heavily protected -- a phantom pick -- and will likely never make its way into OKC's hands.
With Steven Adams' emergence last season and the first round selection of Mitch McGary in this past June's draft, Thabeet became expendable. Behind Adams and incumbent starter Kendrick Perkins, Scott Brooks has become increasingly more comfortable going small, meaning Nick Collison, McGary and even Serge Ibaka can play center at times.
So it was a numbers game for Thabeet, with his departure opening up a roster spot and a bit more financial flexibility heading into the season. Thabeet was due $1.25 million next season, a contract that would have been guaranteed on Sept. 1. OKC is now around $2.9 million under the luxury tax, with its roster at 14.
In his two seasons in OKC, Thabeet became a fan favorite. The tallest player in the NBA always had a smile on his face, joking with the crowd and leading celebratory dances on the bench. But the problem was, he had a tough time getting off the bench.
Thabeet appeared in 66 games back in the 2012-13 season, averaging 11.7 minutes and 2.4 points. But last season, he was limited to only 8.3 minutes per night in 23 games, often logging a DNP, coaches decision.
The former second overall pick remaied a paint clogger and decent shot-blocker when on the court, but his lack of offensive skill and struggle to adjust to NBA speed has constantly kept him out of the rotation. Philly would be his fifth team in six years, but ESPN reports the 76ers plan to waive him.
"I'm gonna miss you @HasheemTheDream," Kevin Durant tweeted late Tuesday afternoon. "My brother for life!"
The biggest chip the Thunder got in this minor deal -- that $1.25 million trade exception -- is not guaranteed to be used. In the past calendar year, OKC has allowed two trade exceptions to expire.
But Sam Presti has used one before. The last time the Thunder franchise utilized a trade exception was during its last season in Seattle, when Presti traded an $8.1 million exception to Phoenix (acquired in a sign-and-trade for Rashard Lewis to Orlando) for Kurt Thomas and a pair of first round picks, one of which became Serge Ibaka.
But this is a minor trade exception. And it came with a phantom pick. For the Thunder, this trade was more about roster and financial flexibility.