NBA general managers play their own version of the stock market. Owning five first-round picks in the next two drafts, Thunder general manager Sam Presti owns several tradable commodities. The most valuable, by far, are Oklahoma City’s pick this season and Phoenix’s first-round pick in 2010.
Pardon the pun, but if the "Setting Suns” continue their downward spiral, that pick could be highly coveted by other GMs. First-round picks acquired in trades are not the same. Oklahoma City owns Denver’s and San Antonio’s first-round picks in this year’s draft, provided both teams make the playoffs. Those are labeled "protected” picks. If the Spurs or Nuggets nose dive and miss the playoffs — highly unlikely — the Thunder doesn’t get the pick until 2010. Phoenix’s pick in 2010 is different. It’s "unprotected.” The Thunder gets the Suns’ first-round pick next season regardless of where the Suns finish. Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire are all signed through 2010. Grant Hill’s contract expires this season. But if the Suns continue to struggle, it’s conceivable they might trade a star or two at some point the next 12 months to get younger. That’s where league GMs play the stock market. Phoenix’s pick could be a lottery pick in a draft in which point guard Grant Wall, a high school senior in Raleigh, N.C., might be the No.
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Thunder first-round draft picks2009 Oklahoma City #Denver #San Antonio 2010 Oklahoma City *Phoenix #Protected (usable only if team makes playoffs) *Unprotected. (Owns pick regardless of W-L record)