Heading into Saturday, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a 22-20 record and sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
Reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook has continued to put up gaudy numbers, averaging a near triple-double with 25.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 10.0 assists per contest.
Newcomers Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have simply not settled into their new roles in OKC. George has struggled with consistency on the offensive end of the floor while Anthony has been forced to accept a lower-volume role due to the presence of his two co-stars.
Although center Steven Adams is having the best season of his career so far, the Thunder have simply struggled. Most obviously, the team features a weak bench that has struggled to perform when one, two or three of the team’s super-talented threesome is off the floor.
With the NBA Trade Deadline fast approaching on February 8, the Thunder should attempt to make an upgrade to the team’s second unit, particularly for those who can find the bottom of the net at a consistent rate. Here are three trade ideas (validated and deemed financially-possible by the ESPN Trade Machine).
Trade 1: Knicks trade Kyle O'Quinn, Jarrett Jack, Michael Beasley to Thunder for Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, Dakari Johnson, two 2018 2nd round picks
From the Knicks’ end, this deal would make sense. Getting rid of O’Quinn would allow second-year center Willy Hernangomez to finally get some playing time, rookie Frank Ntilikina could take over the starting point guard role for Jack and Beasley could be given a chance to play significant minutes somewhere else now that Tim Hardaway Jr. is back and healthy.
Since Beasley’s contract is a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, there’s a small chance that he will return to New York next season after presumably asking for a hefty sum of cash this summer. So, there’s very little risk involved in trading each of the three players. Abrines and Grant would most likely step right into solid minutes off New York’s bench. Johnson is still young and raw, so he’d have to be a long-term project, but one with potentially a lot of upside.
This would be a dream come true for the Thunder. Beasley has proven to fill up the stat sheet and the scoring column when given the chance in New York this season. He could start or come off the bench and play up to 40 minutes of offensive-centric ball, if needed. O’Quinn would be a viable backup center to Adams, who has been tasked with playing huge minutes in certain contests. Finally, Jack could offer more support to the team’s second-unit backcourt, taking over for the few minutes per game when Westbrook catches a breather.
Trade 2: Kings trade Zach Randolph to Thunder for Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson, Jerami Grant, 2018 2nd round pick
Sacramento is rebuilding in an odd way. With a mix of old, mentor-like players and young, inexperienced ones, it’s a whole new approach to team building. Although Randolph is under contract for two more seasons with the Kings, he could give the Thunder exactly what they’re looking for: a hard-nosed big man who can also score. They don’t have anyone like Randolph on their roster at the moment.
On Sacramento’s end, they’d most likely be able to feature both Abrines and Grant in their rebuilding plans. Since winning games isn’t a priority this season, shipping off Randolph could also open major opportunities for guys like Willie Cauley-Stein, who has been playing behind him for much of the year. Plus, there's always a chance that a late second-round selection could turn out to be a star. Just ask Isaiah Thomas, who went 60th overall a few years back.
Trade 3: Hawks trade Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova to Thunder for Alex Abrines, Kyle Singler, Jerami Grant, two 2018 2nd round picks
This is an example of what a perfect trade would be for the Thunder. Both Belinelli and Ilyasova are proven scorers capable of coming off the bench to provide quality minutes. They're both on expiring deals as well. Belinelli is a sharpshooter, capable of running together games with four or five-plus three-pointers made. Ilyasova has spent most of the year starting for the Hawks and has developed into a threat from pretty much anywhere on the court when he has any kind of open space.
The Hawks are headed towards a full-fledged rebuild and both Abrines, Grant and the two second-round picks would likely help in that regard. Meanwhile, it’s a longshot that Belinelli and Ilyasova would return to Atlanta next season. Therefore, getting the maximum amount back for them before the deadline makes a lot of sense, especially considering that winning does them no favors when thinking about the draft lottery this summer.