3 offseason moves the Oklahoma City Thunder must make if the season doesn’t resume
When the Thunder traded franchise icon Russell Westbrook and All-Star swingman Paul George last summer, the prevailing thought around the league was that OKC was going to be rebuilding this year.
However, Chris Paul had something to prove with the Thunder after the Houston Rockets shipped him off a year after signing him to a lucrative extension. Paul made the All-Star team this season for the first time since 2016, so it’s safe to say the Thunder didn’t trade for a “washed up” Chris Paul.
Before the season was suspended due to COVID-19, Paul was averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.8 assists for the Thunder. The 34-year-old was shooting 48.9 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, and 90.0 percent from the free-throw line.
Paul is the perfect mentor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the key player the Thunder acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the George trade. The talented youngster was putting up 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists before Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.
The Thunder had the same record as the Rockets, which is remarkable considering most pundits thought OKC would be at the bottom of the Western Conference. It just shows that Thunder general manager Sam Presti knew what he was doing when George and Westbrook had to be traded.
If the 2019-20 season doesn’t resume in the summer, Presti will have a few decisions to make in terms of roster personnel. Here are three moves Presti and Co. should consider making.
3. Don’t re-sign Andre Roberson
Roberson has had bad luck trying to recover from a ruptured left patellar tendon he suffered during the 2017-18 season. He hasn’t played in an NBA game since January 27, 2018.
Roberson signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Thunder back in 2017. Unfortunately, he sustained all these setbacks that derailed his comeback but OKC has no reason to re-sign him whenever the 2020 free agency period begins. Andre becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In 295 games with the Thunder, Roberson has career averages of 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 25.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 46.7 percent from the free-throw line. He was the 26th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft out of Colorado by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
2. Re-sign Danilo Gallinari
The Miami Heat tried to acquire Gallinari at the trade deadline but a deal wound up not happening. Heat president Pat Riley told reporters in South Beach he was disappointed he wasn’t able to land Gallo.
Gallinari becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was making $22.6 million this season. OKC should re-sign the stretch forward because he’s the perfect complement to Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander. Gallinari is lethal in the pick-and-pop game with both Paul and Shai due to his elite shooting skills.
In 55 games for the Thunder, Gallinari averaged 19.2 points and shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc. That’s the type of production OKC can’t afford to lose.
1. Re-sign Nerlens Noel
There’s been a lot of rumors about the Thunder possibly trading fan-favorite Steven Adams. If OKC does move Adams and his $27.5 million contract, the franchise will need to re-sign Noel this summer since he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Noel averaged 7.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and one steal per game for the Thunder in 2019-20. The activity and energy he plays with don’t always show up in the box scores. OKC would be smart to bring Noel back, although he’s likely looking for a pay raise. Noel made just $2 million in 2019-20.