Trade bait: Thunder has options for Thursday's draft

Oklahoma City has the parts to make a move on draft night, John Rohde writes.
By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: June 20, 2011
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photo - The Thunder could dangle some bait to try and lure another team into a trade. If swapping this year's No. 24 pick isn't attractive enough, OKC could sweeten the deal by adding reserve center Byron Mullens, center, and/or veteran guard Nate Robinson. PHOTOS BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER AND BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PHILLIP BAEZA, THE OKLAHOMAN
The Thunder could dangle some bait to try and lure another team into a trade. If swapping this year's No. 24 pick isn't attractive enough, OKC could sweeten the deal by adding reserve center Byron Mullens, center, and/or veteran guard Nate Robinson. PHOTOS BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER AND BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PHILLIP BAEZA, THE OKLAHOMAN

While NBA teams go fishing for new talent during Thursday night's draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder might be tempted to cut bait.

This week's draft looks like it will be an uneventful evening for the Thunder, whose lone pick comes at No. 24 overall.

General manager Sam Presti has had some notable fishing expeditions on draft night, but will he opt to sit back and watch Thursday?

Owning a late pick in a weak draft is not an enviable position. As usual, Presti is tight-lipped on what might transpire. He is wearing his poker face and has no tell.

Trading the No. 24 pick for a selection (or two) in a future draft is one option, as are a draft-and-stash, trading the pick and player(s) for a proven commodity, or proceeding with caution.

— OKC has gone draft-and-stash two of the last three years, selecting a player and having him play professionally overseas until he is deemed ready for the NBA.

The Thunder chose forward Serge Ibaka with the No. 24 pick in the 2008 draft and let him play in Spain for one season before bringing him into the league.

In the 2010 draft, 7-foot-1 center Tibor Pleiss was selected No. 31 overall by Atlanta and acquired by OKC. Pleiss is not expected to join the Thunder for at least another season.

Thursday night's top stash candidate for OKC appears to be forward Nikola Mirotic (KNEE-coh-lah ME-rah-tich) of Montenegro.



TRADE BAIT?

With a new collective bargaining agreement in the works, teams are expected to be cautious with trades during Thursday night's NBA Draft. Here are some low-risk moves the Thunder ought to consider:

1. Trade this year's No. 24 pick for future pick(s): If Thursday's draft pool doesn't float your boat, swap it for a pick in a future draft. Plenty of other teams will be trying to do the same, however.

2. Trade this year's pick and backup center Byron Mullens for a higher draft pick: Mullens is a 7-footer with some offensive skills and also has had two stints in the NBA Developmental League.

3. Trade Nate Robinson: Though he has had spectacular moments in his six-year NBA career, Robinson has become a $4.5 million cheerleader on this bench. Give him a chance to play elsewhere.

4. Trade this year's pick, Mullens and Robinson: Next season's Thunder roster possibly could go 10 or 11 players deep. Trading all three players would be best for everyone concerned.

5. Sell your pick: If no one in Thursday night's draft fills a need, the Thunder could simply sell the No. 24 selection. NBA teams are allowed to pay up to $3 million for a first-round selection.

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