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5 Trades Thunder need to make by the 2018 NBA trade deadline, ranked 5-1

Coming into the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were thought by many to be a possible threat to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.

After acquiring both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony via trade, OKC General Manager Sam Presti was able to give Russell Westbrook a supporting cast worthy of championship contention.

Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Paul George

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So far this season, the results from the NBA’s newest Big Three have been mixed.

To look at their schedule so far this season is to see a mix of both winning and losing streaks. They seem to be figuring things out as the season heads into February, but if they really want to contend with Golden State and even Houston for that matter, they’re going to have to make a trade.

Here are some suggestions.

quincy pondexter, bulls

Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee

Trade #5:

Bulls get: Alex Abrines

Thunder get: Quincy Pondexter

Why the Bulls do it:

Whether it’s due to the Bulls commitment to their development of young players, or his inability to earn playing time, Quincy Pondexter is only averaging 9.2 minutes per game this season.

With Pondexter being a free agent after this season, it would make plenty of sense to turn their bench warmer into a possible impact player in Abrines. Especially since Abrines is only 24 and is signed through next season.

Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul George, Russell Westbrook

Chris Szagola/AP Images

Why the Thunder do it:

Today’s NBA is all about guys who can guard multiple positions while being able to space the floor on the other end.

At 6,7 220 pounds, Pondexter has the ability to guard wings out on the perimeter, and possibly guard certain 4’s in small ball lineups.

Quincy Pondexter

NBA.com/Pelicans

Pondexter is also a career 35% three-point shooter, which would afford Russell Westbrook even more room to work with no matter what position they slot him at.

And at just under four million dollars for the year, resigning Pondexter, if they choose to do so, should come relatively cheap for the Thunder.

will barton, nuggets

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Trade #4:

Nuggets get: Terrence Feurgeson, Jerami Grant, 2018 2nd round pick (via Boston)

Thunder get: Will Barton

Why the Nuggets do it:

The Nuggets have a nice nucleus of young talent on their roster. Nikola Jokic is becoming a superstar right before our eyes, while guys like Garry Harris and Jamal Murray are turning into a very formidable backcourt duo.

Will Barton is having a great season, averaging 14.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. But, seeing as how he’s 27 years old, his prime probably won’t line up with the Nuggets young nucleus.

Will Barton

David Zalubowski/The Associated Press

And because he’s a pending free agent, it might be wise for the Nuggets to get something back for Barton so they don’t lose him for nothing, or commit a large sum of money to someone who will be in his early thirties by the time the Nuggets core hits their prime.

Both Terrence Feurgeson and Jerami Grant give the Nuggets two athletes who like to get up and down the court, a staple of Nuggets basketball for the past number of years. And that 2nd round pick gives the Nuggets an extra trading chip if they decide to package some of their young players in the hopes of landing a star player.

Russell Westbrook

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Why the Thunder do it:

OKC’s bench is currently ranked 27th in scoring at a little over 24 points a game. They need someone who can give them a spark when their starters just don’t have it.

For his seven years in the league, Will the Thrill has been known to bring energy whenever he steps onto the court, whether that’s on the defensive side or offensive.

thunder

And if the Thunder want to, his 36% three-point conversion rate this season would allow him to play alongside OKC’s Big Three.

He is going to be a free agent after this season, but the Thunder need to convince Paul George to sign a long-term contract.

Bringing in a guy that can help contribute on both sides of the ball will only further the cause.

Avery Bradley

Leon Halip/Getty Images

Trade #3:

Pistons get: Alex Abrines, Josh Huestis

Thunder get: Avery Bradley

Why the Pistons do it:

The Pistons acquired Avery Bradley during the offseason knowing he only had one year left on his deal. And they probably also know that resigning him is going to be very expensive.

Seeing as how wing players such as Kent Bazemore and Evan Turner got roughly 70 million dollars for their new contracts, Bradley would probably command somewhere around that, maybe even more.

Avery Bradley

Getty Images

Maybe the Pistons are willing to pay that money. After all, Bradley has made the All-Defense 2nd and 1st team.

But if they’d rather try to find a cheaper option, Abrines, at 38% for his career, would be a great floor spacer for the Reggie Jackson/Andre Drummond pick and roll. And, at five million per year till 2019, Abrines would be a significantly cheaper option than Bradley, even if he hits the open market.

Heustis is there to make the salaries line up, and, seeing as how the Pistons don’t have much of a bench, could possibly turn into a rotation player if Stan Van-Gundy decides to give him more minutes.

Andre Roberson

Thomas B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports

Why the Thunder do it:

It’s no secret that Andre Roberson is a horrible shooter.

The four-year man out of Colorado is shooting just 22% from three-point range and 29% from the free throw line. Teams simply ignore him on the offensive side of the ball.

Avery Bradley

Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press

Avery Bradley, at a little under 40% and 76% from both behind the arc and the free throw line respectively, has no such problem.

And while Roberson might be able to guard some of the bigger wings out there, Bradley’s length and quickness allows him to guard the many elite point guards throughout the league, which will come in handy against the likes of Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, should the two teams meet in the playoffs.

avery bradley

Matt West/The Boston Herald

Trading for Bradley would be a risk, seeing as how he could either leave in the offseason or cost a pretty penny to re-sign. But, as mentioned before, the Thunder need to do everything possible to keep Paul George in OKC. This trade shows that they’ll make the moves necessary to win, and it’s one that could help keep George come free-agency time.

And if both George and Bradley decide to leave, then the Thunder have some cap flexibility moving forward, seeing as how they are no longer committed to Andre Roberson’s long-term deal.

courtney lee, knicks

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Trade #2: 

Knicks get: Andre Roberson, Terrence Feurgeson, 2018 2nd round pick (via Boston)

Thunder get: Courtney Lee

Why the Knicks do it: 

For all the surprises the Knicks have shown with their competitiveness so far this season, they’re still a rebuilding team.

courtney lee, knicks

Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports

Their two building blocks, Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina, are only 22 and 19 years old.

Because their two young studs aren’t even close to their primes, the Knicks should be playing the long game when it comes to building a contender.

courtney lee

Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

They have a hole at the small forward spot and Andre Roberson could fill it in the short term, with his shooting woes being negated in lineups that slot Porzingis at the center position.

The 2nd round pick is a nice sweetener for taking back Roberson.

And long-term, Terrence Feurgeson has the youth and athleticism that could possibly translate into production if given more opportunities, something he doesn’t currently have in OKC.

andre roberson

The Associated Press

Why the Thunder do it:

As mentioned before, Roberson affords the Thunder with no spacing when he’s on the floor.

Courtney Lee, however, is having a career year, averaging 13.6 points on a line of 46/43/95.

Andre Roberson, Stephen Curry

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

While Lee would give up some height and length on the defensive side compared to Roberson, he’s still one of the better defenders in the league, and his shooting prowess would give the Thunder much more room to operate on the other end of the floor.

He would also be under contract for the next two seasons at just over 12 million a year, making him an ideal target.

Tyreke Evans

David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Trade #1:

Grizzlies get: Alex Abrines, 2018 2nd round pick (via Boston)

Thunder get: Tyreke Evans

Why the Grizzlies do it:

The Grizzlies are in an interesting spot right now.

Tyreke Evans

They should be starting a rebuilding phase, seeing as how they’re 13th in the conference with a very low ceiling. But at the same time, they are still tied long-term to veterans Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Chandler Parsons.

Then, pretty much out of nowhere, Tyreke Evans breaks out and is having a fantastic season, averaging 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.

Tyreke Evans

Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Evans is going to be a free agent after this season, and he’s going to command a hefty sum on the market. With so much money tied up between Conley, Gasol, and Parsons, it would be wise for the Grizzlies to get something in return for Evans on the trading block.

The 2nd round pick gives them a future prospect for their inevitable rebuild, while Abrines gives them a sweet shooting two guard on a cheap contract, something they’ve desperately needed ever since the grit and grind era began.

Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, thunder

Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman

Why the Thunder do it:

As mentioned before, OKC’s bench is one of the worst in the league.

They don’t really have anybody that can run the offense for the second unit. Raymond Felton currently occupies the backup point guard role, and he’s only averaging seven points a game on 42% shooting.

thunder

Layne Murdoch Sr./Getty Images

Evans would afford the Thunder with a guy capable of running the offense when OKC’s Big Three is off the court, or maybe as a secondary ballhandler next to either George or Anthony.

And surprisingly enough, Evans is shooting a career-best 39% from three on over five attempts per game, which would allow him to possibly play with the starters in certain situations.