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

A superb prospect, Mirotic's drawback is he recently agreed to a three-year extension with Real Madrid in Spain. He is now signed through the 2015-16 season, is making the money of a Top-10 draft pick and has a hefty NBA buyout of 2.5 million euros ($3.58 million).

With 13 of its 15 roster players signed at least through next season – plus the possible returns of restricted free agent Daequan Cook and unrestricted free agent Nazr Mohammed – the Thunder is able to be patient and wait on Mirotic.

— If swapping this year's No. 24 pick straight up isn't attractive enough, and there's a good chance it won't be, what about a deal that includes the draft pick, reserve center Byron Mullens and veteran guard Nate Robinson?

Mullens trails rookie Cole Aldrich in the Thunder's race for backup center, but Mullens might be easy to peddle with his $1,288,200 salary next season and a team option the following year.

Robinson is guaranteed a lofty $4.5 million next season but could have a suitor because it is the final year of his contract.

Trading all three players would bring the Thunder roughly $6.7 million in equal compensation, but might not be tantalizing enough as trade bait.



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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