What the Joffery Lauvergne Trade Could Mean to the Thunder
By Michael Doutey
The Thunder made a trade yesterday acquiring forward Joffery Lauvergne from the Denver Nuggets for two second round picks. This trade is a typical Sam Presti move, one that no one saw coming and at a time we least expected it.
Lauvergne is a 24 year old forward, standing at 6-11 with a nice back to the basket game. He is entering into his third season in the NBA and averaged 7.9 points per game and shot 51 percent from the field in just 17 minutes per game with the Nuggets last season.
But this move might be an indication of another move the Thunder could make before camp begins. The Thunder already have Stephen Adams, Enes Kanter, Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, Mitch McGary along with Lauvergne. That is too many forwards and the Thunder roster is already over the maximum 15 players.
Something has to give and my guess is that Mitch McGary's days are numbered in OKC.
It's been clear since Kevin Durant left that the Thunder need a small forward. Even I know that Kyle Singler and Josh Huestis would not cut it for this team as the lone small forwards on the roster.
The name that has floated around the most has been disgruntled Kings small forward, Rudy Gay.
The Thunder could package as little as Ilyasova and McGary for Rudy Gay. Now, I don't know if that would be appealing to the Kings. You can also throw in Singler and the money works for the trade as well.
The tough thing right now is how quiet the NBA is. There are barely any rumors out there, so trying to predict who the Thunder are looking at for a potential trade is very difficult and completely speculation.
Just a list of names off the top of my head that would fit the Thunder other than Gay begins with Trevor Ariza. Houston does need some bigs after Dwight Howard left for Atlanta. Ariza is another aging player at 31 years old. He averaged 12.7 points last season and shot 37 percent from three. He is a long and capable defender, which the Thunder love.
Another name is Washington's Otto Porter Jr. He is another long player who is just now emerging and growing as a 23 year old NBA player entering his fourth season. He averaged 11 points a game in 2015 and is a career 35 percent three point shooter. I am not sure the Wizards would be interested in a Mitch McGary or anyone on this Thunder roster, but he is name to watch out for.
A few other names could be the Suns TJ Warren, Boston's Jae Crowder or the Pacers CJ Miles. But this is all just speculation. Heck, the Thunder might not even make a trade. Presti seems to always be unpredictable even in a predictable situation like this one.
However, knowing that the Thunder do need a small forward and also need to keep money open for next season, Rudy Gay seems like the best option. He has a year left in his contract before his player option for the 2017-18 season. He will be 31 next off-season and will be looking for one more big deal before the end of his career. It would be a safe bet to say he would want to opt out of his deal with the influx of money coming into the NBA as he would enter free agency next off-season.
That would mean a player who is looking to right the ship would be in a contract year (a year most players are their best looking to maximize their earning opportunities as a free agent) and would be leaving a dumpster fire like Sacramento and would go to a playoff team like OKC.
To me, it seems like a perfect marriage for a season. We will see what happens but I am sensing another move before training camp begins in a little over a month.