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NBA / Jul 1, 2009 / 2:58 pm

OKC Thunder: One player away

Kevin Durant (photo. The Oklahoman)

Kevin Durant (photo. The Oklahoman)

Although the ’09 NBA free agent class isn’t as stacked as in years past — not to mention the League is being more thrifty than ever due to the slumping economy — teams still have holes they want to plug, and players have moves they want to make. As the negotiation period gets underway (players can’t officially sign until July 8), we’re breaking down each team’s free agent situation…

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

ROSTER
G – Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins, Kyle Weaver, Shaun Livingston, Chucky Atkins, Robert Vaden
F – Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Desmond Mason, D.J. White, Malik Rose
C – Nenad Krstic, B.J. Mullens, Robert Swift

FREE AGENTS
Mason, Swift, Rose

ANALYSIS
With the third-lowest payroll in the League, Oklahoma City not only has itself in good position to make a big move this summer, they’ve also got a lot of money to play with in 2010, when Grade-A talent becomes available. (Does Grade-A talent want to play in OKC? That’s another story.)

Whatever you think of ownership’s methods of moving the team out of Seattle, you at least have to give GM Sam Presti credit for taking a team that was one of the worst in the NBA and turning it into a promising group of young talent: Durant, Green, Westbrook and Harden are a solid core if they can keep them all in town for a few years, and they’re some experience and one impact big man away — whether it’s this year or next year — from making some real noise. Adding some firepower to the bench would help, but picking up a starting-caliber PF would allow Green to take his multi-faceted game to a reserve role, where he’d be an instant contender for Sixth Man of the Year.

With 18 players currently on the roster, OKC is likely to let all three of its free agents walk (they might re-up with Mason, an OKC native and crowd favorite) and not get too crazy in free agency while waiting for next year’s more attractive class.

IDEAL TARGETS
PF – Paul Millsap, Lamar Odom, David Lee, Shawn Marion, Charlie Villanueva, Anderson Varejao, Birdman Andersen, Big Baby Davis (R), Brandon Bass
C – Marcin Gortat

NBA FREE AGENCY ANALYSIS
Los Angeles Lakers
Memphis Grizzlies
Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers

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  • Dennis Castro

    I think they need some solid veteran leadership more than anything. Just give Durant, Westbrook, Green, and now Harden a couple of years.

    I wouldn’t break the bank on bringing in a marquee FA. I’d bring in 2 solid vets(one forward, one guard) that can teach these young guys some of the veteran ish.

    They’re going to need all that loot anyway to keep Durant and Westbrook.

  • Arrogant

    I think they should get Paul Milsap and Birdman… they would contend immediately

  • hahns

    anyway the thunder can trade for amare?

  • ERIC

    whichever veteran or star that would come in would have to understand that this is Kevin Durant’s team. he’s the leader, #1 option on offense and in the clutch. some stars have an issue with taking a backseat to a younger player. a blue collar guy who can get rebounds and garbage buckets would be better for them than a “star” in 2010. i think getting david lee or paul millsap this summer makes sense. presti is a smart boy.

  • ERIC

    @hahns

    Amare needs to be a #1 option, face of the franchise to be happy. winning/scoring in phoenix wasnt enough – he wants to be the MAN. i dont think he would be a good fit with what OKC is trying to build..

  • IrishBaller

    Millsap and Birdman… I could see that happening

    C: Birdman
    PF: Millsap
    SF: Durant
    SG: Harden
    PG: Westbrook

    6th: Green

    and somehow I see shaun livingston fitting into the puzzle….

  • Kobeef

    I agree that they need a true low-post PF and a C to complete this team.

    The team’s core is young but very, very talented so they should resist the urge to toss money at the best available free agent and continue to build through trades and the draft…with one exception..I think OKC should make a serious run at Bosh in 2010. Bosh is still young and would be a great option 1b on Durant’s team.

    OKC also needs a Center (Kristic is OK but is not the long term solution) and with the firepower on this team they could afford to go with a guy who doesn’t need the ball. If it wasn’t for Tyson Chandler’s foot problem he’d be a perfect fit for this team.

  • OKCsonics

    Oh so true Kobeef, I was doing backflips when I heard they got Tyson Chandler. Then angry it was rescinded, then happy when I heard he had to get surgery & was gonna be out 3-4 mos. because it was so bad.

    Bosh would be amazing but very expensive. Next year’s draft has some big centers we can get but rounding out the roster with some vets like Millsap & resigning Mason (cheap) would be cool with me. Make a little move or 2 involving expiring deals like Watson & Wilkins, GREAT! Bosh would tie up SO much money it’d be hard to resign Durant, Green & Westbrook in the future.

  • JR

    Sam Presti is the MAN! He knows what he is doing… my vote for GM of the year in 2010.

  • flavur

    I’d pick up brandon bass or marcin gortat

  • JH

    Gortat and Birdman…two of the most over-rated centers in the L. Both got mad exposure in the playoffs and both are viable backups…but neither could handle the and sustain the load of major minutes. They are good @ what they do for limited amounts of time.

    Gortat is the next over paid big man mistake waiting to happen.

  • JH

    Millsap to OKC would be a great pickup. He’s both young & hungry. Will it happen though?

  • JHUSTLE

    Millsap will make a big difference. So would Bass. Dam the thunder are slowly making big moves to posisiton them to at least contend for the playoffs. cant believe im sayin this but i cant wait to watch them play next year. I mean the 2 national games they may get, if that Lol im out like devean georges minutes

  • Diego

    One player away? Yeah, right, maybe if that player were LeBron. (And, no, I do not envision any free agent biggees eager to go to OKC.)

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    I don’t think they need a veteran at all. Look at Portland they just keep building from the draft. There are going to be boatloads of quility big men in next years draft where OKC should have a lottery pick again. The NBA works in cycles once all the marquee teams start to age and there star players start to retire the bottom teams will be on top. If OKC stays pat and builds through the draft mark my words in 5 or 6 years they will be one of the best teams in the league.

  • LS24hrgrind

    We should grab Millsap ASAP…

    P.S. Desmond Mason is from Waxahachie, TX but he did go to Oklahoma State (which is not in Oklahoma City)…

  • OKCsonics

    As long as they don’t overpay for Millsap, I’m down for a 5yr/35-40mil (not 65 like reported). I agree Gortat is gonna be an overpaid bust center like Jim McIllvaine.

    “One player away” from a legitimate every year playoff team…not a contender. Gortat & Birdman are not starters, like them both but not starter mins. Brandon Bass is nice but if we sign Millsap there’s no need. Jeff Green & Millsap can split time & for Durant & Kristic…Collison will get backup center mins & whats left at PF, DJ White is gonna be out of rotation as it is. Save the rest of the cap after Millsap unless it’s a small 1-2 mil/yr. (Dez Mason or some other vet).