Having your best player request a trade is rarely ever a good thing. Typically, a trade request saps you of leverage in talks, but in Oklahoma City, they became the team with the leverage in an odd twist in the current era of player empowerment.
Paul George requesting a trade to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard signing with the Clippers being contingent on them landing George in a trade gave Sam Presti ample opportunity to squeeze every bit out of L.A. as possible. The result was a record haul of picks, with five firsts (four unprotected), some swaps, and a prized rookie from last year in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (and a really good player in Danilo Gallinari, who is on an expiring deal).
The biggest problem with hitting the reset button so clearly was that left Russell Westbrook as the next star that needed to be moved. The Heat were reportedly involved in talks, but ultimately Westbrook was sent to the rival Rockets for Chris Paul in a stunning trade that netted the Thunder even more in future draft assets.
Oklahoma City won’t be a team that will have a huge impact on the floor this season, but all things considered, it’s hard to find a team that’s done a better job pivoting to a rebuild so aggressively. To get the full picture, below you’ll find everything the Thunder have acquired in a trade this summer, dating back to draft night, and everything they’ve sent out.
Thunder Sent: Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Jerami Grant.
Thunder Got: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Chris Paul, 2020 Nuggets top-10 protected first, 2021 Heat unprotected first, 2021 Rockets top-4 protected swap rights, 2022 Clippers unprotected first, 2023 lottery-protected Heat first, 2023 swap rights with the Clippers, 2024 Clippers unprotected first, 2024 Rockets lottery protected first, 2025 swap rights with the Clippers, 2025 top-20 protected swap rights with the Rockets, 2026 Clippers unprotected first, 2026 Rockets top-4 protected first.
The full list of picks Oklahoma City now has at its disposal is, honestly, comical.
Now, as is always the case, this is all meaningless unless the Thunder do something great with all of those assets. Still, given that this is a franchise that has to upgrade its roster via the draft and free agency in order to have a chance given that Oklahoma City isn’t a desired market for NBA players, this is a great start. They have assets to hopefully turn into the next crop of young stars in OKC, and have picks to send out in order to try and swoop in on the next disgruntled star to ask out of his situation.