So far, the pre-draft trades have turned out pretty well for all parties involved. Y’know, unless the Zach Randolph-Al Jefferson swap goes down and forces all of the remaining Wolves fans to live underground while the franchise is burned to the ground.
Oklahoma City and Miami will make a minor swap that goes down as another win-win. The Heat will clear even more cap space for their off-season overhaul while the Thunder will add another mid-first round pick and a guy who can (theoretically) hit from outside. The Heat will send Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick to OKC for the No. 32 in a move that has little to do with either Cook or the No. 32 and everything to do with the No. 18 and the salary shed.
After losing Cook’s $2.2 million in 2010-2011, the Heat have brought their salary owed to a functional minimum. Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley, Joel Anthony, and James Jones will receive a little more than $8.5 million total (not including cap holds), allowing Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra to basically create an entire team from scratch.
On the other side, Oklahoma City clearly seems to be targeting a specific player with the No. 18 pick. Rumors point to VCU’s Larry Sanders as the apple of Sam Presti’s eye, but it could realistically be a number of big men projected to go in the middle of the first round. Cook is pretty much a non-factor in the deal, as the player chosen at 18 is the real prize. Yet if Daequan could rediscover his 2008-2009 shooting stroke (when he went 38.9% from three, as opposed to 31.7% in 2009-2010), he wouldn’t be a complete spare.
Regardless, Presti has another feather for his hat. After this trade, the Thunder will have three first rounders (No. 18, No. 21, No. 26) to play with in this summer’s draft, a unique opportunity to infuse the most successful young core in the NBA with even more young talent. Well-played, Sam.