Thunder Deal Baseball Legend for Bench Depth

OKLAHOMA CITY receives: Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, Detroit’s 2019 Second Round Pick
DETROIT receives: Reggie Jackson
UTAH receives: Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, the rights to Tibor Pleiss, Oklahoma City’s 2017 First Round Pick–top-14 protected, Detroit’s 2017 Second Round Pick

Oklahoma City was not going to resign Reggie Jackson next season. Though he is a good player, there is only so much money you can spend on a backup at the deepest position in the NBA (he already turned down $48m over 4 years). Someone was going to swoop in and offer him a large contract that the Thunder would have (smartly) refused to match. Yes, I know they have put themselves in the same position with Kanter (who oddly wants more money than Jackson), but I think Kanter will be more valuable to this season’s run than Jackson was going to be. Plus, it most likely will boost Dion Waiters morale and (already sky-high) confidence. Looking at their season’s moves as a whole, turning Jackson into Waiters is a slight downgrade. But Reggie Jackson refused to shoot these last few months! FGA by month: 17.2 in November, 11.6 in December, 8.2 in January, 5.7 in February (via ESPN.com). Obviously this overlaps with Westbrook’s and Durant’s return from injury and the acquisition of Waiters, but for a team desperately lacking spacing, that’s a huge negative, so I do not see this as big of a drop-off as most people might. And D.J. Augustin is a good back-up point guard, at a reasonable $3m this year and next. As for the big men involved in the trades, replacing one year of Kendrick Perkins for one year of Enes Kanter (plus the chance to match in the summer), is on-par with a bank heist. I’m not saying Kanter is the max-level player he thinks he is, but he is certainly an improvement over Perkins, and also an upgrade on Brook Lopez: no lingering foot injuries, $10m cheaper this season, and OKC has the choice of paying him next season, as opposed to Lopez’s $16.7m player option. Acquiring Lopez would not have been the demise of this team, but Sam Presti was smart to look elsewhere for help. All of this talk, and I haven’t even mentioned the two shooters acquired! Although I did mention the Thunder’s extreme lack of spacing. Now that OKC’s top three bigs can all actually move their feet, and there can be at least one token white guy standing in the corner hitting open threes, the court is suddenly WIDE open for Durant and Westbrook to do Durant and Westbrook things. Tied for eighth place in the hyper-competitive West, OKC is looking to make their run this year. And this trade was a great start for that. Giving up a future first round pick (likely pretty late, as this team is young and loaded) is easily palatable for what they gained: A

The Pistons took a good risk here. D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler are good players, but are not foundational pieces. For a team in Detroit’s current state, you have to be willing to move them for someone like Jackson. After waiving Josh Smith, SVG has Detroit heading for a playoff spot, even after losing born-again basketball player Brandon Jennings. While I am typically against making moves to jump from the 8-10 seed to the 6-8 seed, I like this deal. Detroit has a solid young nucleus who was headed for the playoffs, and didn’t have to give up much of anything in value to add a starting-caliber point guard. Things will get awkward when Jennings returns from injury, but it’s (almost) always better to have too much talent than too little–as long as that talent’s name isn’t Josh Smith Forced To Play 25 Feet From The Hoop. Plus, as the Suns have shown, two point guards can co-exist, even if one is unhappy: A-

The Jazz must really have been upset with Kanter. He’s been unhappy for months, and reportedly demanding max-money in the off-season. Considering he’s the Jazz’s #3 big, it’s not hard to see why they would want to get some value for him. But I’m not sure how much value they actually got. Though there are a few bodies coming over, the only thing the Jazz really received in this deal is one first round pick and the ability to not pay Steve Novak $3.8m next season. The pick from the Thunder can convey as early as 2017, but if OKC doesn’t jump two more teams in the standings by the end of the season (detailed in my analysis of the Sixers/Nuggets trade), it will delay until 2018 at the earliest. And unless Durant jumps ship next summer, that pick will be in the high 20s. Granted they got some return, I still don’t think they received enough value here. Unless the Jazz stop winning all together and jump two or three spots in the draft, this trade was mediocre at best: C-

**All stats/salary/research from Basketball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted**

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