And if you haven’t heard, the Thunder waived Mo Sene last night to make room for Sefolosha. I know. I miss him already too.
NOTE: Something that every major outlet has been reporting is that in exchange for Sefolosha, OKC gives up the lesser (which actually means higher, or least favorable) of either the Nuggets or Suns pick in 2009, which Hollinger worries one could end up in the lottery. Well, the Suns pick is for 2010. OKC owns the Spurs’ and the Nuggets’ 2009 picks. Just a clarification there.
UPDATE: Tyson Chandler just posted a story about the whole trade thing on his website: “The next day I was getting everything straight with my family and packing up stuff. The kids were going to go back to California with our parents and I was going to head out to Oklahoma City and start looking for a house for the following year. Until then I was going to be in a hotel. On my way to the airport I get a call from my agent again and he says “Don’t get on the plane.” And I’m like “What?” He repeats, “Don’t get on the plane. There’s some problems with the trade, I don’t know if it’s going to go through.” So I go back home and he calls me back to say the deal is not going through. Meanwhile, I’m like “WHAT?” Next thing you know, I’m getting calls from a couple of the Hornets people, and they’re saying, “We’re looking forward” and this and that.”
Lots of Thabo love from ESPN’s Daily Dime. Lots: “Kevin Arnovitz: It might not be the splashiest deal of the day — and it’s certainly a fall-off from the Tyson Chandler trade — but I like Oklahoma City’s acquisition of Thabo Sefolosha for a late first-round draft pick. Oklahoma City has incredible offensive firepower on its roster. What OKC needs now are some players like Sefolosha who can give them some length and toughness on the wing. For the Thunder to become a perennial playoff team in the West, they’ll need a defensive stopper or two, and Sefolosha can excel in that regard. He can guard four positions and rebound the ball without hurting them offensively. In other words, he can provide the Thunder some reliable glue for all those nice pieces.”
John Hollinger grades OKC’s trades: “I love this deal for the Thunder. They’ve needed a shooting guard all season, especially one who will defend and doesn’t need the ball much. Sefolosha pretty much fits the description on all counts, and he should be a perfect fit as their starting 2 going forward. He doesn’t have great offensive gifts, but he could become an elite defensive stopper in time. The Thunder trade one of their three first-rounders in what shapes up as a fairly lame draft, but there’s a chance that the pick (the lesser of Phoenix’s or Denver’s) will end up being in the lottery. In a related move, the Thunder waived Mouhamed Sene, one of their recent lottery picks to try to fill the center spot for the franchise. I’m guessing you won’t hear that name again unless you’re a big fan of FIBA qualifying tournaments. Grade: A-”
And on the Rose/Wilcox deal: “This is a bit of a come-down from Tyson Chandler. But the Thunder got some payola out of it for agreeing to take Rose, and I’m sure Clay Bennett appreciates that. The Thunder might get a few more ducats out of it if Rose agrees to a buyout so he can sign with a contender — perhaps returning to San Antonio. Grade: C-plus”
Matt McHale of Bulls By the Horns on the deal: “I’m fine with this trade. More than fine with it, actually. Thabo was next to useless on offense and his supposed benefits — size and defense in the backcourt – weren’t strong enough to make up for his offensive deficiencies. Salmons is a better player in every way. Well, except that he’s been known to throw hissy fits when he doesn’t get enough shots. And Thabo, for all his faults, never complained. (Loudly enough to make the news, at any rate.) But as long as we can keep John reasonably happy, this is a smart move. Heck, it’s a smart move regardless.”
I answered three questions for TalkHoops.net: “Russell Westbrook seems like the Thunder drafted a much better, more well-rounded version of Monta Ellis. Do you think he has a long-term projection as a top point guard or would he end up being more valuable as a scoring guard much like Monta Ellis (with Baron Davis) or maybe even a Ben Gordon? It’s funny you ask this. Ever since Russell really started picking up and catching people’s attention, everyone has been looking for that elusive comparison with him. Is he Rajon Rondo? Is he Derrick Rose? Is he Monta Ellis? Is he Dwayne Wade? And the reality is, he’s a little bit of everything. He’s lightning quick off the bounce. He’s developing a nice little 15-foot jay. He’s a really quality defender that’s getting better. He can get to the rim and finish with the best of them.”
Sam Presti on the new acquisitions: “I felt like we accomplished some things that we wanted to,” Presti said Thursday evening. “We’re excited to have Malik and Thabo join us and I think they’ll have positive impacts on our team and also our culture, and we’re excited to continue to take the momentum that we’ve gained in recent weeks and continue to build on it.” I think the Thunder could have picked up Big Country Bryant Reeves and Sam Presti would say, “We’re excited to have Bryant join us and I think he’ll have a positive impact on our team.” Gotta love coachspeak.
NBA.com rookie rankings: “Our NBA.com writing staff in Phoenix asked as many All-Stars as we could a variety of poll questions that we’ll break out on the site in the future. One of the questions was, “Who is the best rebounding guard in the league?” The most common names to pop up were Rajon Rondo and Jason Kidd, but if we ask that question again in a couple of years, it wouldn’t surprise me if Westbrook’s name was mentioned. Westbrook had 12 boards against the Blazers last week, with eight of the already impressive total coming on the offensive glass.”
Kelly Dwyer on the Wilcox/Rose deal: “The Oklahoma City Thunder have sent Chris Wilcox to the New York Knicks for Malik Rose (above, left). I have no idea why. Both have similar, MLE-ish contracts that expire this summer, but Wilcox can play. Rose, who is a good locker room guy but has only played 18 contests this year, cannot. Rose hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the field since the 2004-05 season, and his undersized frame leaves him quite prone on the defensive end. Isiah Thomas traded for him, so there’s your final nail.”
Chris Mannix of SI says OKC was one of the biggest losers at the deadline: “Unless Chandler’s toe falls off sometime in the next two years, the Thunder overreacted to an injury that the Hornets don’t seem to be that concerned about. Chandler would have backstopped a porous defense and formed a solid nucleus with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook, in addition to the multiple first-round picks OKC has this June. Instead, the Thunder picked up some money in the Rose-Wilcox swap and a promising swingman in Sefolosha, who cost them one of their low first-round picks. Not the worst result, but one that could have gone as significantly better.”
Fanhouse: “The Knicks were busy Thursday and, besides the Hughes deal, sent Malik Rose and some cash to Oklahoma City for Chris Wilcox. The Thunder ended up with some financial relief after all, and the Knicks ended up with a young-ish big who I’ve thought for a long time could be a very solid player in this league.”
Basketbawful on the Chandler mess: “Just when the people of Oklahoma City had something (other than Kevin Durant’s scoring) to get excited about, Tyson Chandler magically became a Hornet again. If you consider “failing a physical because of turf toe” to be magical. Wow. This is the first time — in any sport — I’ve heard about a turf-toe condition killing a trade. And he failed a physical because of it? I guess that physical had a lot of toe-related tests. (“Okay, Tyson, we need to you push this two-ton granite slab across the court and then fight off a pack of wild dogs…using only your toe. Now: GO!”) Why do I get the feeling that Thunder GM Sam Presti rather have expiring contracts than Chandler’s salary, which will be close to $12 million next season?”
Joe Smith and Chucky Atkins top Hollinger’s waiver wire pick-ups: “The most notable of the potential free agents is Oklahoma City’s veteran forward, back on the Thunder after Tuesday’s deal for the Hornets’ Tyson Chandler fell apart. Rumors of Smith’s going to Boston have been rife all season, and it’s highly likely he’ll reach a buyout agreement with the Thunder if he’s still on their roster this Friday … Another player with only a partial guarantee for next year, Atkins is a misfit in the Thunder’s youth movement. Given the demand for veteran point guards to fill out rosters at this time of year, Atkins could find himself beating away suitors should he be released.”
More John Rohde on the failed Chandler trade: “What about putting Chandler in street clothes the remainder of this season? Put him on the shelf. If he needed surgery, do it. If he needed rest, give it. Proclaim this season a lost cause. Sitting Chandler wouldn’t hurt your playoff chances because you have no chance. With 28 games left, the Thunder is 10 measly games away from being mathematically eliminated. Look to next year and beyond. Fact is, the Thunder did consider this scenario. “We considered all possibilities, but we had to do what we thought was best for this organization,” general manager Sam Presti said.”
Darnell Mayberry with Thabo: “I welcome the trade. I think it’s going to be a good situation for me,” Sefolosha said. “I’m happy to come and play with some very good young players. It’s a lot of talent on this team, so I hope I’m going to be able to help the team and showcase my talent.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he’s familiar with Sefolosha only through what he’s seen on film and scouting reports, but he said he likes his defensive mindset and ability to guard three positions. Brooks, however, said he hasn’t decided whether Sefolosha will start or come off the bench or play primarily at shooting guard or small forward.”