Will the Thunder make a deal before the NBA trading deadline?

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: February 16, 2009 at 6:34 am •  Published: February 16, 2009
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photo - Oklahoma City guard Earl Watson and head coach Scott Brooks discuss strategy during the  Thunder - Miami game January 18, 2009 in Oklahoma City. BY HUGH SCOTT
Oklahoma City guard Earl Watson and head coach Scott Brooks discuss strategy during the Thunder - Miami game January 18, 2009 in Oklahoma City. BY HUGH SCOTT

The NBA's trading deadline will come and go Thursday at 2 p.m., but will the Thunder play "Let's Make A Deal"?

We have the reasons why Oklahoma City could and why it couldn't.

Reason No. 1 why the Thunder is likely to be active: expiring contracts. The Thunder's got them. Other teams need them.

Most trades are made in this league for financial reasons, and the Thunder could aid a team in getting under the luxury tax, lowering their payroll or in clearing future salary cap room for the possible LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh sweepstakes in 2010.

The Thunder could be more than $20 million under the cap next season, meaning it has the space to take on contracts with additional years without as much consequence.

Reason No. 1 why the Thunder could be inactive: average player assets. Yes, Oklahoma City has the expiring contracts of Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, Desmond Mason, Robert Swift and Mo Sene. But those players don't have much value if a team is interested in more than just dumping salary.

Wilcox and Smith could help a competitive team in the second half, but Mason is out for the season, Swift can't be traded without his consent and Sene is still a project.

Reason No. 2 the Thunder could be active: its other assets. Oklahoma City has five first-round draft picks over the next two years, including three this year. The Thunder also has the draft rights to Serge Ibaka, who has drawn interest from around the league.



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