Writing on TrueHoop, Chris Sheridan has some fun with the trade machine and comes up with two deals for OKC. Deal No. 1: James Harden, Matt Harpring’s contract, Etan Thomas and a couple first rounders to the Suns for Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, and Jarron Collins. And then No. 2: Nick Collison, Kyle Weaver and D.J. White to Washington for Mike James, Francisco Oberto, Nick Young and Earl Boykins.
So now OKC’s roster looks like this, assuming Kevin Ollie and Jarron Collins are bought out/waived:
C: Stoudemire, Nenad Krstic, Oberto
PF: Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka.
SF: Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha
SG: Barbosa, Young, Boykins.
PG: Russell Westbrook, James, Eric Maynor
It’s definitely a nice looking roster. Amare on the inside is definitely big time. And there’s some offensive firepower and speed with Barbosa running between Westbrook and Durant. But here’s where it makes no sense: Thabo is playing behind KD and Barbosa is starting. This team has built an identity on the defensive end, and now two of the softer defensive players in the Western Conference are now starting for you. You lose James Harden, who has been the absolute perfect fit on the roster, ruin team chemistry and potentially tick off Kevin Durant.
People are getting carried away with the Thunder right now. The common thinking is, “Hey, they’re pretty good now. Why not get better and actually try and make some noise in the postseason?” And my response is, why can’t the Thunder make noise with the CURRENT roster?
This team was good when the season started. And it has exponentially improved as the weeks have passed. Yes, it’s young. Yes, it’s not a finished product. But now this summer’s flexibility takes a major hit, the Thunder is now touching what will likely be the salary cap next year and the most important thing, is the roster really that much better?
Obviously, Ford is just playing around with ideas. He’s not entirely serious with these moves. And Oklahoma City is an intriguing team at the deadline. But avoiding these types of trades are exactly how Sam Presti has built the current roster. He’s drafted, signed smartly and traded for pieces to build around a cornerstone. It hasn’t been by running year to year trying to make a splash to keep the team’s head above water. It’s been by building for long term, sustained success. Living season to season is the Phoenix Sun way. That’s the Washington Wizard way. That’s the New Orleans Hornet way. That’s not really the Thunder way.