At a time where most General Managers feel pressure to make big, splashy moves in order to save their jobs… Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti continues to do little things to slowly build a team that will not only win… but be a winner for a while.
The latest step in the progression was a deal that didn't exactly make waves across the NBA.
The Thunder got Eric Maynor, the 20th pick in this year's NBA draft, and Matt Harpring in exchange for 2002 second-round pick Peter Fehse.
John Hollinger has a great explanation about why this is a great deal for OKC.
some subtle aspects of this deal make it particularly juicy for the
Thunder. Harpring makes $6.5 million this year, but Oklahoma City is on
the hook for only $1.78 million while insurance will cover the rest.
And since Harpring has an expiring contract, the deal won't cut into
their projected $10 million-plus in cap space next summer. Finally, the
Thunder can trade Harpring again if they so choose, either alone or as
part of a package: Teams under the cap aren't bound by the league's
two-month rule on re-packaging acquired players.
Utah effectively donated Maynor to Oklahoma City because of the
mind-boggling financial savings. The Jazz retain more than $10.46
million by removing $7.8 million in luxury tax payments, another
$884,452 for Maynor's salary the rest of this year, and $1.78 million
in payments to Harpring that wouldn't have been covered by insurance.
The trade also opens the door for the Jazz to eventually slip under the
luxury tax threshold entirely – they're now only $4.8 million over.
Maynor is looking to be a solid back-up for Russell Westbrook… which is something the Thunder needed. Harpring will never play and he suddenly becomes a trade-able commodity.
So the Thunder addressed a weakness at virtually zero cost to them. They picked up a piece that they can either dangle in another trade right away… or just let go for more salary cap flexibility. In the meantime, they're 13-14 in the super-competitive western conference and just 2 1/2 games out of the 8th playoff spot… currently held by a Jazz team that seems to be more focused on reshaping its team rather than pushing for the playoffs.
OKC might not make the playoffs this year… but they're going to be one of the teams knocking on the door. They've got a superstar in Kevin Durant, a budding under-the-radar type star in Jeff Green, and all but 2 players on their roster have more than 5 years of NBA experience. Plus, they've got enough money to make a big move if they want to this summer.
A lot of GM's are trying to build McMansions… but Sam Presti is building a home on a solid foundation. In a year or two, we're going to start hearing about the Thunder as contenders… because it's a team being built the right way.