The Oklahoma City Thunder continues to prove that patience in the NBA can really pay off.
Rather than burning through the organization’s eight-digit salary cap surplus in free agency over the summer, Thunder general manager Sam Presti maintained his meticulous, methodical approach. By doing so, Presti on Tuesday stretched his money farther than the value any off-season signing could have for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder has acquired rookie point guard Eric Maynor in a trade with Utah, pouncing on a critical cost-cutting move by the Jazz. Oklahoma City took on Matt Harpring’s expiring $6.5 million contract in the deal and sent Utah the rights to 2002 draft pick Peter Feshe, a second-round pick out of Germany who has never played in the NBA.
The Thunder waived reserve guards Shaun Livingston and Mike Wilks to make room for Harpring and Maynor, the 20th overall pick out of Virginia Commonwealth who is expected to join the team in Phoenix today.
"He’s a smart player,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He’s very crafty. He understands the position very well. We’re excited to have him. Going forwards, he’s going to help us. We like what he brings. Defensively, he gets after it.”
At 6-foot-3, Maynor provides the Thunder with another big lead guard behind starter Russell Westbrook, who is strong and steady as a playmaker. In 26 games, Maynor is averaging 5.2 points, 3.1 assists, 1.5 rebounds and only 1.1 turnovers in 14 minutes per game.
Maynor, a 22-year-old North Carolina native, seemingly solves the backup point guard quandary the Thunder has struggled with since moving to Oklahoma City. The Thunder bought out erratic reserve guard Earl Watson this summer and traded veteran Chucky Atkins to Minnesota when he proved ineffective after arriving from Denver via a mid-season trade.
The deal adds yet another young player — the eighth first-round pick in the past three drafts — to Oklahoma City’s stable of young talent.