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OKC Thunder: T.J. Leaf looking for fresh start

T.J. Leaf was with Pacers teammate Doug McDermott when Leaf learned that he had been traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City. 

McDermott, who played 22 games for the Thunder in the 2016-17 season, told Leaf what to expect. Former Indiana teammates Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb also knew a thing or two about the Thunder. 

"They've had nothing but great things to say about the organization and the city," Leaf said Tuesday. "That's definitely exciting coming to a place where you know you're gonna be treated like a pro and it's a first-class organization." 

The Thunder acquired Leaf and a 2027 second-round pick from the Pacers in exchange for point guard Jalen Lecque. 

The Thunder is hoping that Leaf, entering the last year of his rookie contract, can benefit from a change of scenery. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season. 

"He's kind of a unique, modern-type five man because he can roll, he can pop, he's springy off the floor," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "He's been really good with communication on defense, which is a huge skill on that end of the floor." 

Leaf, a former first-round pick from UCLA, has averaged fewer than 10 minutes per game in each of his first three NBA seasons. 

Related Photos
Dec 27, 2019; Miami, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Leaf (22) warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 27, 2019; Miami, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Leaf (22) warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-335833867adecd903efd843cfed1b65d.jpg" alt="Photo - Dec 27, 2019; Miami, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Leaf (22) warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports" title="Dec 27, 2019; Miami, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Leaf (22) warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports"><figcaption>Dec 27, 2019; Miami, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Leaf (22) warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports</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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