The 10-man core that Thunder general manager Sam Presti has finally settled on has made it more difficult to discern what Oklahoma City might do at this year’s trade deadline.
Unlike last season, when the majority of the roster could be considered available, only veterans Etan Thomas and Kevin Ollie needn’t be in any long-term conversation. Upgrades are starting to squeeze injured second-year players D.J. White and Kyle Weaver out of the mix. But it might be too early for Presti to include one or both of those promising young pieces in a package. Presti’s public motto of exploring all opportunities to improve the team is no different than any other GM’s around this time of the year. But perhaps the more telling philosophy is Presti’s acknowledgment that he can’t get anything of value without giving up anything of value. It’s a statement that suggests more of the core could be available than one might think. But Presti has more assets at his disposal than meets the eye leading up to the Feb. 18 deadline. Thomas’ expiring $7.3 million contract is an attractive piece. And since Thomas hasn’t played since Dec. 4, we’re left with no choice but to consider him trade bait. But because almost every team is over the salary cap, the Thunder would have to take back a nearly equivalent salary to make any trade involving Thomas work.