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Tramel: OKC Thunder might not be finished collecting draft picks

At the conclusion of the Masters on Sunday, a pleasant thought drifted through my golf-filled head. Hey, we’re only five months away from another Masters.

And Thursday, while I sorted through all the first-round draft picks now hoarded by the Thunder, another pleasant thought drifted through my pick-filled head. Hey, we’re only eight months away from another NBA Draft.

Heck, I’m not sure of the timeline. I don’t know if the NBA will stage its draft in late July or early August. I don’t even know if the league will stick to its new COVID-induced calendar, and neither does the NBA itself.

But in some ways, that’s the next big thing on the Thunder horizon. The draft becomes paramount when you tear down and rebuild, especially the way the Thunder has.

This is an amazing transformation. In this crazy week -- the most action-packed off-season week in NBA history, with the trade moratorium lifted Monday, the draft Wednesday, free-agency launch Friday -- the Thunder has dominated the proceedings by restocking a variety of NBA franchises and collecting enough first-round draft picks to launch a new franchise.


The Thunder began the week already with more draft picks than Lyndon Johnson had in 1966, then Sam Presti went all Gordon Gekko and got downright greedy.

Dennis Schroder was traded to the Lakers for a first-round pick. Chris Paul was traded to the Suns for a conditional first-round pick. Ricky Rubio, from the Phoenix trade, was sent to Minnesota with the Laker pick to swap first-round picks with the Timberwolves (with James Johnson coming back to OKC). Kelly Oubre, also arrived from Phoenix, was traded to Golden State for a conditional first-round pick.

That’s a net gain of two more first-round picks, one of which has been used to draft Serbian Aleksej Pokusevski.

And Presti doesn’t have to be finished.

The Thunder still could trade Steven Adams and his expiring contract. The Thunder could restore Al Horford’s status and raise his value, drawing interest from a contender in need of an inside presence, although gleaning another first-round pick for Horford might be Presti’s greatest magic act.

The Thunder could use the trade exception they got in the Golden State deal to take on another team’s bad contract and demand a first-round pick for the service. Oubre’s trade exception is $14.4 million -- a trade exception basically is an exemption from salary-cap rules. Golden State had a $17 million trade exception, which is what allowed it to trade for Oubre (and his $14.4 million salary) without sending back similar salaries in return, even though the Warriors are over the cap.

And the Thunder still could get a first-round pick in some kind of Danilo Gallinari sign-and-trade deal. If Gallinari wants to go to a team (Dallas?) that is over the cap and unable to sign him to a lucrative contract, the Thunder could cooperate by signing Gallinari to the deal and then executing a trade.

It’s all dizzying, I know, and the Thunder has as many as 16 first-round picks in the next six drafts. I could try to list them all, but that hurts my head to figure it all out. Just know that Presti is not finished.


The trade/draft frenzy that extended into Thursday overshadowed the news that the Thunder added two new players.

Admiral Schofield, the 6-foot-5 center from Tennessee, was included in the Thunder-Wizards draft trade from Wednesday night. So Schofield is a Thunder, for now.

OKC acquired center Vincent Poirier and cash for a conditional second-round pick from the Celtics. This clearly was a favor to Boston, which needed to get out of Poirier’s deal.

OKC kept center Mike Muscala (he exercised the player option on his contract) and wing Hamidou Diallo (exercising the team option on his contract).

Not all of these guys will be around long (or short). But for now, this is the best Thunder depth chart I can provide.

Center: Steven Adams, Al Horford, Mike Muscala, Vincent Poirier.

Point guard: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon, Jalen Lecque.

Power forward: Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Admiral Schofield.

Shooting guard: Lu Dort, Ty Jerome. 

Wing: Hamidou Diallo, James Johnson, Isaiah Roby.

I have no idea if Maledon can play point guard, or even if he’s coming over. I have no idea what to make of Jerome, much less of Lecque. And Johnson is better served at power forward, but the Thunder is short of perimeter players.

And the roster could be made over before sundown. So this is nothing except a fun exercise to remind you of the teardown.


SGA and Dort are Canadians. Adams is a New Zealander. Pokusevski (and Vasilije Micic, a 26-year-old EuroLeague star whose rights the Thunder got from the 76ers) are Serbs.

Horford is Dominican. Poirier and Maledon are Frenchman. Schofield is from London. 

Eight of the 15 current Thunders are international players.

But Bazley is from Cincinnati. Johnson is from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Muscala is from Roseville, Minnesota. Lecque is from Teaneck, New Jersey. Jerome is from New Rochelle, New York. Roby is from Dixon, Illinois. And Diallo is from New York City.

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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 ›