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How Thunder stacks up in Western Conference playoff race after trade deadline

Thunder fans were giddy when Danilo Gallinari’s name was announced. The NBA trade deadline was 29 hours in the rearview mirror and the sharpshooting forward was still launching jumpers in Oklahoma City.

A day earlier, Miami appeared poised to land Gallinari.

“I like Gallo,” Heat president Pat Riley told reporters Friday. “And I think he would have fit in here really well, but it didn’t work out. Somewhere you have to sort of draw a line in the sand for your team.”

That line, drawn in the sand of South Beach, kept the Thunder’s roster intact.

There was a common sentiment of relief in the Thunder locker room Friday night after a 108-101 win against the Pistons.

“We’re like a whole family,” point guard Dennis Schroder said. “Sometimes it’s bigger than basketball. We’re really good friends off the court as well. It is what it is at the end of the day, but I’m pretty glad that everybody stayed here.”

Chris Paul said he meant to send a group text to his team after the deadline passed. He shared that message in the locker room Friday.

“If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group.”

The Thunder (32-20) has won nine of its last 10 games and is closer to first place than ninth place in the Western Conference. OKC is a lock to make the playoffs. Seeding is the only thing left to be sorted out.

Now that the trade deadline has passed, here’s how projected playoff teams in the West have changed trajectories.

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers (38-12)

Trajectory: Level. The first-place Lakers were quiet at the deadline. The Lakers were reportedly unwilling to include forward Kyle Kuzma in a deal to the Knicks for Marcus Morris Sr.

No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers (36-15)

Trajectory: Up. The Clippers beat their crosstown rival in the Morris sweepstakes. The Clippers traded forward Moe Harkless, guard Jerome Robinson, a 2020 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick to obtain Morris in a three-team deal with the Knicks and Wizards. In Morris, the Clippers added a 6-foot-8 stretch forward who is shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range — sixth-best in the NBA.

No. 3 Denver Nuggets (36-16)

Trajectory: Level. The Nuggets were busy, but their moves only affected the back end of their rotation. Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt, all of whom offered Denver valuable depth, were shipped to Minnesota in a four-team deal that involved Houston and Atlanta. Denver added guard Jordan McRae, forward Keita Bates-Diop, forward Noah Vonleh and a 2020 first-round pick (via the Rockets).

No. 4 Utah Jazz (33-18)

Trajectory: Up. But not because of a deadline deal. The Jazz made its trade on Christmas Eve. Utah added guard Jordan Clarkson from Cleveland in return for Dante Exum and two second-round picks. Clarkson has averaged 14.9 points per game off the Jazz bench.

No. 5 Houston Rockets (33-19)

Trajectory: Who knows? The Rockets have doubled down on being different. Houston is starting 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker at center after dealing Clint Capela to Atlanta. Houston’s prize return in the four-team deal was Robert Covington, a tough wing defender and an average 3-point shooter. But what happens to the super-small-ball Rockets in a playoff series against Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert or Nikola Jokic?

No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (32-20)

Trajectory: Level. Gallinari is OKC’s best 3-point shooter at 41 percent. Floor spacing might have been a glaring issue without him. The Thunder’s only midseason trade was dealing center Justin Patton to the Mavericks for rookie forward Isaiah Roby, who isn’t in the rotation.

No. 7 Dallas Mavericks (31-21)

Trajectory: Level. Dwight Powell suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon was a big blow. Powell started 37 games for the Mavericks. Dallas made a savvy January deal for Willie Cauley-Stein to replace Powell’s minutes at center.

No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies (26-26)

Trajectory: Down. Memphis is at least a year ahead of schedule with one of the best young cores in the league. Its deadline moves focused on the future. Memphis added a promising but injury-prone forward in Justise Winslow in the Andre Iguodala deal. Big men Gorgui Dieng and Jordan Bell also landed in Memphis, but the Grizzlies lost starting forward Jae Crowder and rotational pieces in Solomon Hill and Bruno Caboclo. As long as Winslow is out, the Grizzlies will lack depth. The No. 8 seed is suddenly more attainable for Portland, San Antonio and New Orleans.

NOTE: Standings and records do not reflect Saturday games

***

Celtics at Thunder

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37)

Radio: WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM

Related Photos
<strong>Dennis Schroder (17), Chris Paul (3) and Nerlens Noel (9) celebrate during at Thunder win Jan. 18 against the Trail Blazers. Now that the trade deadline has passed, OKC can focus on a playoff run. “If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Dennis Schroder (17), Chris Paul (3) and Nerlens Noel (9) celebrate during at Thunder win Jan. 18 against the Trail Blazers. Now that the trade deadline has passed, OKC can focus on a playoff run. “If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group. [Sarah Phipps/The...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3ac50d5895deb74dc22ec75750209d7b.jpg" alt="Photo - Dennis Schroder (17), Chris Paul (3) and Nerlens Noel (9) celebrate during at Thunder win Jan. 18 against the Trail Blazers. Now that the trade deadline has passed, OKC can focus on a playoff run. “If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Dennis Schroder (17), Chris Paul (3) and Nerlens Noel (9) celebrate during at Thunder win Jan. 18 against the Trail Blazers. Now that the trade deadline has passed, OKC can focus on a playoff run. “If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Dennis Schroder (17), Chris Paul (3) and Nerlens Noel (9) celebrate during at Thunder win Jan. 18 against the Trail Blazers. Now that the trade deadline has passed, OKC can focus on a playoff run. “If we’re gonna make a run at this thing,” Paul said, “we’ve got our group. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a88c3acb54472aa8babff883d1f1dfb2.jpg" alt="Photo - Danilo Gallinari (8) looks to get by Detroit's Christian Wood (35) and Bruce Brown (6) during the Thunder's 108-101 win Friday. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Danilo Gallinari (8) looks to get by Detroit's Christian Wood (35) and Bruce Brown (6) during the Thunder's 108-101 win Friday. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Danilo Gallinari (8) looks to get by Detroit's Christian Wood (35) and Bruce Brown (6) during the Thunder's 108-101 win Friday. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-92e46aa13abd1ea45a65ef9da5e33324.jpg" alt="Photo - Dennis Schroder (17) claps during the Thunder's 109-103 win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Dennis Schroder (17) claps during the Thunder's 109-103 win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Dennis Schroder (17) claps during the Thunder's 109-103 win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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