- F Davis Bertans (trade), G Victor Oladipo (trade), G Cason Wallace (draft)
- None significant
Sometimes bad omens don’t always follow you around like a dark cloud. Such was the case with OKC after Chet Holmgren, the Thunder’s No. 1 pick, was done for the season even before it started. A foot injury suffered during the summer effectively put Holmgren on ice, literally, and delayed his rookie season until 2023-24.
And yet the Thunder prospered anyway, as well as a developing team could in a very deep and competitive Western Conference. OKC won 40 games and saw progress across the board as young players took the next step — baby steps, but steps nonetheless. There was growth from Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, Lu Dort and Isaiah Joe, among others.
Plus: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went from All-Star to borderline superstar, becoming one of the league’s toughest players to guard, finishing fourth in scoring at 31.4 ppg.
OKC missed the playoffs, however, crashing out of the AT&T Play-In Tournament so there remain challenges ahead. But all things considered, OKC’s rebuilding blueprint is going according to plan.
Since 2019, there has been one constant on Draft Day — Sam Presti making a trade. The OKC personnel boss, one of the best in the business, explained by saying he always wanted to move up in the first round if such a situation presented itself. Like clockwork, Presti secured another swap this June, sending his first-rounder to Dallas, moving up two spots to No. 10 while taking Bertans’ contract off the Mavericks’ hands as “punishment.”
Obviously, this was less about getting a devalued 3-point shooter in Bertans than making sure OKC was in position to get Cason Wallace. Was there a chance Wallace would be there at 12? Perhaps. But on the first page of the general manager handbook, written in bold-face is this: Get the guy you want.
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And so, OKC added another promising young player to a swelling collection. Wallace is a 6-4 combo guard from Kentucky who brings solid defensive credentials. He’s a streaky shooter with decent range, and doesn’t turn 20 until November; expect the same player development treatment in OKC as the others who came before.
Otherwise, the Thunder had a relatively quiet offseason. Bertans is owed $33 million over the next two seasons, making him the Thunder’s second-highest-paid player next season behind Gilgeous-Alexander. But with a surplus of players still on their rookie contracts, Bertans’ money isn’t an issue, and – if anything – helps OKC reach the required salary floor.
It’s the same reasoning behind bringing back Oladipo. His recent injury history suggests a short stay in OKC, but the Thunder will use his $9 million to pad their cap, having received a pair of second-rounders from Miami as well.
There was no blockbuster trade and OKC resisted any urge, however small, to trade a young asset in order to take shortcuts. Best news is Holmgren made it through the summer without re-injury, and looked solid while doing so.
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