By Randy Renner
As usual this time of year Thunder GM Sam Presti and his staff are talking to a lot of teams about a lot of different scenarios going into tonight's NBA Draft.
The Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets are hoping to finalize a deal that will send Jeremy Lamb to Charlotte and provide the Thunder with a future draft pick. The original word out of Charlotte yesterday was that the Hornets would be sending Matt Barnes (or at least his contract) to OKC and the Thunder would then either buy out Barnes or waive him.
However, the Thunder would prefer a future draft pick and so old friends Presti and Hornets' GM Rich Cho, who was a Presti assistant during the Thunder's first few seasons in OKC, will continue to talk and try to settle on something.
Lamb has had a disappointing beginning to his career in OKC after being traded from Houston as part of the James Harden deal. Lamb never seemed to completely buy in when it came to playing defense and that led to less and less playing time. Then with his minutes reduced Lamb never could find consistency with his shot.
A new start should help him, especially playing on a team with his old college teammate from UConn, Kemba Walker, running things from the point guard position. He's still gonna have to figure out how to play better defense though. Steve Clifford won't put up with someone who doesn't so Lamb could still find himself at the end of the bench.
Lamb is due $3 million this coming season so the Thunder will be happy to part with that contract. They're also shopping Steve Novak, who's contract calls for $3.75 million in 2015-16 and Perry Jones, who's on the books for $2 million.
The Thunder need at least one open roster spot for a player they draft and they're trying to save some money too because re-signing restricted Enes Kanter could cost the team $10 million, maybe $12 million a season. Without reducing their payroll OKC would be looking at a huge tax bill at the end of next season.
The Thunder have talked to teams about moving up, but the price so far has been more than OKC is willing to pay. Moving down, or even all the way out of the draft, is much more of an option, especially as we get into the draft and a player the Thunder really wants is taken off the board.
Most mock drafts still have the Thunder taking Murray State point guard Cameron Payne and if Payne is already gone then most believe OKC will target Kelly Oubre, Sam Dekker and Trey Lyles. Oubre and Dekker are both small forwards and Lyles is more of a power forward. The team also had point guard Jerian Grant in for a workout this week.
So as usual, when it comes to the Thunder there are several ways the team could go and none of us mere mortals really has much of a clue as to what will end up going down.
My guess is, if Payne is still available at #14 the Thunder will take him.
Our InsideThunder.com staff will be at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center this evening, we'll also be monitoring any trades during the day. Be sure to check out our Twitter feed page so you can keep up with what's happening as we will be live tweeting through the day and evening.
We expect to talk with Thunder GM Sam Presti and perhaps head coach Billy Donovan after the dust settles this evening. Remember the Thunder, as of this writing, not only have the 14th overall pick but also 18th pick in the second round (48th overall) so it will be a late evening.