I Feel A Draft Coming
By Randy Renner
The Oklahoma City Thunder go into next Thursday's NBA Draft with the 14th pick. What they do with it is anybody's guess at this point, but the winds of change are already blowing in OKC and they could easily continue to howl on June 25th.
Thunder GM Sam Presti has been and will continue to talk to teams in front of and behind the Thunder in the draft pecking order, gauging interest in possible trade scenarios. Presti and his staff are also intently analyzing all the information currently available on various players the Thunder may be interested in drafting or acquiring.
Over the next several days we'll look at some of the possibilities and take a look at some of the players the Thunder may be interested in bringing in.
My colleague, Addam Francisco, ran down some of the options in his most recent blog which you can read under the blogs tab here on the site.
As we look toward the draft and who the Thunder might choose to bring in you first of all have to realize SOMEONE who was on the team last season will NOT be on the team this coming season.
The Thunder played with a full roster of 15 players last season. 13 of those players are under contract for next season too. Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler are restricted free agents and have expressed interest in returning to the Thunder.
So...in order to make the math work either a trade is coming or the team will allow Singler to move on without offering to match whatever offer he might receive. The Thunder seems determined to keep Kanter based on the offensive skills he showed after coming from Utah last season.
The Thunder also like Singler's defensive abilities and his 3-point shooting, though he didn't fare all that well from deep in the few minutes he played last season. If the Thunder want to keep Singler does that mean Jeremy Lamb and or Perry Jones could be on the move?
Could be, because again, SOMEONE has to leave the roster in order for a draft pick to come on board. Jones and Lamb have been disappointments, they've each shown flashes but neither has been able to perform at high levels consistently. Perhaps new coach Billy Donovan and his staff can find the right buttons to push but clearly, with the roster as full as it is, time is running out.
And then there's also the matter of Josh Huestis. Huestis remember was the Thunder's second pick in last year's first round. Instead of obtaining the guaranteed contract first round selections usually do, Huestis and the Thunder ended up agreeing on a D-League deal with the promise of an eventual promotion to the big club.
Most assumed that promotion would happen this coming season but perhaps not. Huestis averaged 10.3 points on 37 percent shooting last season for the OKC Blue. The Thunder are hoping he can become a "3 and D" guy. The Defense is there but the 3-point shooting isn't. Huestis made just 31 percent of his threes for the Blue.
Could Huestis remain off the Thunder's books another season and continue to play for the Blue? In an interview last month with the Great Falls Tribune in Montana, Huestis seemed to indicate that would indeed be possible.
"I'm willing to do whatever they believe is best for me," he said. "There are a lot of paths to the NBA, I'd be okay with it as long as I knew it would make me a better player."
The Thunder could deal any of these players or perhaps even Dion Waiters who's contract runs out after next season, in order to move up or down in the draft or to create some roster space.
The team doesn't release the names of players it's brought in for workouts but sources have said the Thunder have worked out point guards, shooting guards and forwards. Point guard Cameron Payne was here over the weekend. Sam Dekker has been in and so have R.J. Hunter and Kelly Oubre.
Payne has long been rumored to be a Thunder target, he's an outstanding college point guard, who can both score and create for others but his draft stock his risen rapidly and may not still be there at 14. The Thunder have only two PGs on the roster, superstar Russell Westbrook and backup D.J. Augustin. The Thunder prefer to carry three so that's why Payne's mane has come up.
If the Thunder have grown tired of Jones, who technically has been Kevin Durant's backup, then Dekker or Oubre might be a good fit.
In the coming days we'll take a look at the strengths and the weaknesses of those players and others. And of course we'll be at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center on draft night to bring you live updates on what goes down.