According to Darnell Mayberry, this deal is either DONE or close to it:
The Thunder has beefed up its frontcourt. Oklahoma City acquired reserve center Etan Thomas from Minnesota on Monday, sending reserve guards Damien Wilkins and Chucky Atkins to the Timberwolves in exchange for the 6-foot-10 Tulsa native.
The Thunder also will get Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2010 and a conditional 2010 second-round pick from the Wolves. Oklahoma City will now have five total draft picks in 2010, including its own first- and second-round picks and Phoenix’s unprotected first-round selections.
Another slick move by Presti and Co. First, Thomas is a native Oklahoman (Booker T. Washington), so he can fill the token Okie spot likely to be vacated by Desmond Mason. Second, his contract expires at the end of this year and he’s owed just over $7.3 million, so the Thunder keeps its cap flexibility. Third, no more Damien Wilkins and Chucky Atkins. Fourth, the Thunder now has five picks in next year’s draft (two first rounders, three second). Fifth, that’s an extra roster spot for OKC to work with. And sixth, at least someone is behind Nenad Krstic on the depth chart now.
The 31-year-old Thomas averaged 11.8 minutes per game last year in 26 games and putting up 3.1 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game. Hard to say how much he’ll contribute or if he’ll have much of any impact, but don’t overlook the veteran leadership he can bring to young guys Serge Ibaka and Byron Mullens. Thomas has fought injuries for a lot of his career and I’m not thinking he’ll do a whole heck of a lot, but we thought the same thing when Malik Rose came to town and Rose had a very positive impact. So you never know. But it’s a good move because it opens up the roster without hurting the team’s cap situation.
I know what you’re thinking: Couldn’t we have gotten more out of the expiring contracts of Chucky and Damien? You’d think so, but all those two are going to do is go sit on somebody’s bench. While expiring deals are certainly valuable, you also want to get something in return that you can put on the floor and will produce. So thinking Wilkins and Atkins could be flipped at the deadline for an actually productive player wasn’t much more than a pipe dream. (And as reader JK quickly pointed out in the comments, Thomas’ $7.3M deal can be flipped much easier at the deadline than Wilkins and Atkins.)