The Thunder have an above-average 3-point percentage and a top-end defense.
But in the hunt for a title, Oklahoma City is leaving nothing to chance.
Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $70,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Tuesday night’s games – the first games after All-Star Break. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
The Thunder could accept up to $6.6 million for one player using a trade exception, but that’s probably not their real limit. They’re only $2,236,572 below the luxury-tax threshold, and I can’t see them surpassing it.
The trade exception itself would help Oklahoma City acquire a player on a long contract his current team wants to dump. But anyone more valuable, the Thunder would have to add a draft pick. That’s more likely because few players have burdensome contracts paying fewer than $2,236,572 this season, and the Thunder are one of the few win-now teams that can still trade a 2014 first-round pick.
Trade exceptions and draft picks might not be the only pieces involved, anyway.
You know where Oklahoma City can find a player exactly like the one it’s reportedly seeking? Its starting lineup.
Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder’s starting shooting guard, is a 3-and-D specialist who already has grown pretty comfortable with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
But Sefolosha is shooting just 33.6 percent on 3-pointers, his lowest mark in the last three years. He’s also surrendering a 13.8 PER to opposing shooting guards, his worst mark in four years, according to 82Games.
That 3-point shooting percentage is below average, though it’s still solid. And Sefolosha’s defense might be down a bit, but it’s still strong.
The Thunder, however, as I mentioned, have championship hopes. If they can upgrade by trading – Sefolosha has an expiring $3.9 million contract, making him valuable to several teams in a deal – or motivating their current shooting guard with a threat of a trade, they will.