Six years ago Thursday, Gregg Popovich traded for a starting center, made him a backup and gave him 18 minutes a game the rest of the season. The San Antonio Spurs went on to win the 2005 NBA title.
Thursday, the Thunder traded for a starting (mostly) center, made him a backup and probably will give him about 18 minutes a game the rest of the season.
Same guy. Nazr Mohammed.
The Thunder acquired the 6-foot-10 Mohammed on Thursday from the Charlotte Bobcats. Mohammed is a 33-year-old, defensive-minded center (7.3 points a game for the Bobcats this season; 6.9 for his career).
He's not going to make a highlight reel. He's also not going to let players get to the basket easily. Mohammed provides strong inside depth behind newly-acquired center Kendrick Perkins.
When the Thunder traded Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green for Perkins, it left the Thunder a little shallow in the middle. Rookie Cole Aldrich suddenly was in the interior rotation.
Mohammed's trade a few minutes later fortifies the Thunder interior even moreso.
Mohammed, whose father is from Ghana, was raised in Chicago and played for Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith at the University of Kentucky. He played little on UK's 1996 NCAA title team but was a major part of the Wildcats' 1998 NCAA title team.
More good pedigree from Mohammed: He was drafted by the 76ers om 1998 when Larry Brown was coach, then played again for Brown at Charlotte. If Brown likes your defense, that's a good endorsement.