The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the Thabo Sefolosha trade was this. After the Malik Rose deal we were all wondering what was going on. Where was our wunderkid GM? But now Presti does something like this, and totally redeems himself.
I think it’s a great deal. Sefolosha is an extremely athletic 6-foot-7 small forward/shooting guard that was still finding playing time while being buried behind Larry Hughes, Ben Gordan and Luol Deng. We knew there was no way OKC was going to actually use all five of those first-round picks the next two years so you have to judge value here. And with this year’s draft Thabo Sefolosha > a late first-round pick. Big time. The Bulls needed to clear room for John Salmons and the Thunder really needs help at the two and three. Think about it – who backs up Kevin Durant right now? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Answer: nobody. The Thunder’s got Russell Westbrook and Earl Watson at point. Kyle Weaver and Russell Westbrook at the two (and Desmond Mason of course). Kevin Durant at the three. Who’s playing behind him? Damien Wilkins? I don’t think he counts because he sure ain’t playing.
Sefolosha is natural three that can play the two. He’s solid at two positions and in Europe he played some point guard. He handles the ball well and is a good passer. He impacts the team immediately at two positions and strengthens the Thunder bench. Whether Scott Brooks decides to start Sefolosha or leave Weaver as the starter and bring Sefolosha off the bench, either way, the OKC bench just got a lot better. I think this is knock out of the park for OKC. The only drawback is that now I have to type “Sefolosha” on a regular basis.
Though he’s not a great shooter, he is a solid slasher and a capable defender. Draft Express said in 2006, best case he’s a Josh Howard (hopefully without the pot-smoking America hating). In the 2007 playoffs against Dwayne Wade, Sefolosha stiffled Dwyane Wade in Game One holding him to just 21 points on 7-16 shooting. The guy can play a little defense. And I’m not sure here, so help me out, but I think that’s kind of what Sam Presti is after.
This adds a lot of depth to the Thunder backcourt and hopefully can reduce the 45 minute games KD has been playing lately. Sefolosha is cheap (under $2 million per) and is just under contract for two years. So we can have a little test drive with a raw 24-year-old and maybe he pans out and maybe he doesn’t. But in the end, all OKC gave up was a late-round pick in a weak draft. And again it gives the OKC roster much needed help, especially if the Thunder can’t retain Desmond Mason.
As for the Malik Rose deal. On the surface, it doesn’t make a whole crap ton of sense. You trade Chris Wilcox – a guy that’s been a solid contributor to your franchise the past five years and someone that has pretty high value – for an 34-year-old pine-rider that makes more money than him? It really didn’t look all that bright at first glance. But the more everyone swished it around, I think it began to become more clear. I happen to really agree with jk’s assessment:
“After some thought I really think it comes down as a favor to Chris Wilcox. He has been a good soldier for the Sonic/Thunder franchise. As far as we know, he has been a good teammate despite getting no run over the past 6 weeks. It is his contract year–why not give him a chance to earn a solid paycheck next year.”
That’s a great point. He was going to be stuck on the end of OKC’s bench without a chance to play and without a chance to prove himself to future suitors. Now he’s going to go to the Running D’Antoni’s and have a shot at putting up good second half numbers and possibly earning a decent little contract. I think this explanation makes more sense than anything else. I imagine Wilcox has been asking for a chance to play, whether it be for OKC or someone else, and Presti did what he could to oblige.
With what happened last night and the scrambling that had to be done today by Presti and company, I think OKC did a nice job. Boy, if we only had that healthy Tyson Chandler… this would have been a banner and I mean banner trade deadline for the Thunder. With the Chandler deal, this trade season is an A+ for OKC. But with that falling through, I’d grade the Thunder at a B, with the chance for some extra credit pending Sefolosha’s contributions.