So the Thunder made a trade. Here it is:
Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow for Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a 2018 second round pick.
On the surface, this trade is pretty straightforward: They get a needed floor spacer and scorer in McDermott, a (likely) new starting power forward in Gibson to allow Domas Sabonis to slide to a bench role, and a pick that who cares about.
Some quick thoughts:
They deal Payne, who the organization really likes, but was recognizing that he’s stifled playing behind Westbrook. The two never really found much of a rhythm as a tandem, and if Payne was nothing more than a 12-15 minute a night player, his trade value was always going to decrease. The Thunder didn’t want him to eventually dissolve into getting the same kind of return of, say, Jeremy Lamb. So they sold high.
Gibson is unrestricted this summer, while Lauvergne is a restricted free agent. But with Lauvergne likely to get an offer sheet outside of the Thunder’s comfort level, you could basically view him as unrestricted as well. So would you rather have two more months of Lauvergne, or upgrade that to Taj Gibson?
Seeing Morrow go is a bummer, because everyone loves A-Mo, but it’s clear the organization wants to clear more of a path for Alex Abrines. This deal gives OKC more offense, and better spacing and shooting to surround Westbrook with. Honestly, it feels like a big win for OKC.