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OKC Thunder: Sign-and-trade now best option for Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari remains with the Thunder. Miami’s offer didn’t meet Sam Presti’s demands, and the Heat didn’t want to increase its offer unless Gallinari agreed to sign a one-year contract extension.

So the Thunder/Gallinari marriage is intact, with a split almost surely coming this summer. Gallinari is 31, and 31-year-olds who still have game know their chances for one last big contract are dwindling. So Gallinari almost surely wants to capitalize.

I don’t know, but my guess is Gallinari will want something like a three-year, 75-million deal, and with few big-time free agents on the market, he’s likely to be highly recruited. That kind of commitment doesn’t jive with the Thunder rebuild.

Of course, it’s always possible that Gallinari can’t find the contract he wants in the place he wants and decides to return to the Thunder, which can pay Gallinari big but won’t want to commit to anything long-term. A two-year contract, with Gallinari holding an option for the second year, is possible but unlikely.

So the Thunder’s best hope is that Gallinari wants to sign in the summer with a team with limited payroll space, which is most of them.

Under that scenario, the Thunder could get Gallinari to where he wants to go, with the kind of contract he wants, while getting something in return, in a sign-and-trade.

Sign-and-trades long have been an NBA staple. A way for a free agent to reach a preferred destination, no matter the salary implications.

Sign-and-trades lost some luster in recent years with the uptick in NBA revenue – most teams had plenty of payroll space after the new television contracts, which is how the Warriors had the money to entice Kevin Durant.

But NBA teams are not frugal. Most spend quickly, and the last couple of years, the payroll space has evaporated. And lo and behold, the sign-and-trade returned.

Last summer, as NBA free agency began, teams produced four sign-and-trades involving significant players. This is the kind of deal the Thunder covets this summer:

* Kevin Durant to the Nets. Durant entered free agency, selected Brooklyn, and to get Durant a four-year contract worth $164 million, the Warriors signed Durant to that contract, then executed a trade with Brooklyn.

Golden State got D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham – then the Warriors gave the Nets a protected 2020 first-round pick, when Durant intervened and said his new team hadn’t gotten enough.

That’s a great consolation prize for the Warriors. The Thunder lost Durant and got nothing. Golden State lost Durant and somehow came back with Russell, who last week was turned into Andrew Wiggins and a first-round draft pick. Russell probably is a better player than is Wiggins, and though I wouldn’t climb too far out on that limb, that draft pick could be a windfall. Does anyone think Minnesota will turn it around soon?

* Kemba Walker to the Celtics. When Walker chose Boston, the Celtics were not able to offer a max contract.

So Charlotte signed the player it was losing, then traded that four-year, $140 million contract to the Celtics, who sent back point guard Terry Rozier.

Walker is a far step ahead of Rozier, but at least the Hornets got a capable point guard to transition to a post-Walker era.

* Malcolm Brogden to the Pacers. Milwaukee got a future first-round pick and future second-round picks. Which didn’t help this Bucks team but helps the future. Presti is all about the future.

* Jimmy Butler to the Heat. And here is the ideal scenario for a sign-and-trade team.

Miami won the Butler derby but didn’t have the space to give him what he wanted. So it cooked a deal with the 76ers that turned into a four-team trade.

Miami got Butler and Meyers Leonard. The 76ers got Miami’s Josh Richardson, the Edmond Sante Fe graduate who has become an excellent all-purpose wing. Portland got center Hassan Whiteside and the draft rights to Mathias Lessort. The Clippers got Mo Harkless and a protected 2023 first-round pick, and the Clippers have since sent Harkless to the Knickerbockers for Marcus Morris, who figures to be a major figure in the Clips’ title chase.

But focus just on Miami and Philly. The 76ers lost a superstar but in return got a valuable, starting-caliber player who helps in a variety of ways.

The Thunder isn’t likely to get back a D’Angelo Russell and frankly wouldn’t want a D’Angelo Russell. But if the Thunder could get a Richardson-quality player for Gallinari, then the sting of losing perhaps the best shooter in OKC would be lessened.

Of course, what Presti covets most would be more draft picks, and as we saw with the Brogden deal, even that is possible.

So the Thunder was dormant this trade deadline. But come July, a different deadline arrives for OKC. Getting something for Gallinari.

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) passes away from Boston's Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) passes away from Boston's Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ed56285cae662aba9e26b9944f3aa766.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) passes away from Boston's Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) passes away from Boston's Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) passes away from Boston's Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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