The rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be in the swirling vortex of NBA trade rumors all season long.
In the eye of the storm is Chris Paul — he wants to be traded, the Thunder want to trade him, but the three-years, $124 million remaining on his contract has made that process difficult. To put it mildly.
Also there is Steven Adams, a quality big man who can bring defense, rebounding, a few points, and physicality to a team. He has two years, $53.3 million total on his contract, but that’s not what is scaring teams off right now, it’s the high asking price, reports Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.
Sources told Heavy.com that the Thunder are seeking a draft pick, a young player and salary relief for Adams.
“They set the price too high,” one league executive said. “That’s what you’d expect and maybe it will drop as the year goes on. It’s tough to take on his contract (two years, $53 million remaining) and give up picks and players. Most teams are pretty well set at the center spot now, you have a big guy and you have your small lineup. You can’t just take on a contract like that. There isn’t a big number of teams who could take him.”
That last line is critical — Adams is an old-school center, and those kinds of players are in far less demand now as the NBA evolves to a space-and-pace league. Not a lot of teams are looking for a center in the mold of Adams, and the ones that could use him look at the price tag — both what they’d have to give up and his salary the next two seasons — and balk. Deveney points to the Kings as an example, they had some trade talks for Adams but it didn’t go far, then they signed Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year, $40 million contract. They found what they see as a better value.
Things will change. As the season moves along and teams assess their needs, and as the Thunder bring their asking price down, it’s likely trade talks will heat up around Adams again. Whether they can move him before next summer remains to be seen, but if he can up his scoring with Russell Westbrook and James Harden gone, it will help his cause.