The Oklahoma City Thunder's offseason has not been very eventful. They did eat Davis Bertans' contract in a draft day trade with the Dallas Mavericks to move up two spots to draft the player they wanted in Kentucky's Cason Wallace. Another trade they made was with the Miami Heat to acquire Victor Oladipo in a salary-shedding move for the Heat as Oladipo rehabs from a devastating injury he suffered in the playoffs. The only real signing Oklahoma City made was using their midlevel exception to sign Vasilije Micic, a Serbian star with accolades that include being a two-time EuroLeague champion and a EuroLeague MVP award.
The issue, however, is that Oklahoma City has 16 guaranteed contracts on their roster without including two-way contracts. That also doesn't include Isaiah Joe or Aaron Wiggins, who have solidified themselves as good rotation players the Thunder certainly should keep. An NBA roster can hold 15 players on standard NBA contracts and three two-way players. So unless the Thunder want to eat guaranteed money, it would make sense for them to look for a trade to free up roster spots.
Three players, in particular, should be looked at as potential trade pieces for the Thunder.
3. Tre Mann
Tre Mann is an electric scorer. He looks like he could be a Lou Williams-type of sixth man on a good roster. He scored like him in Summer League back in July.
Tre Mann (28 PTS, 10-14 FG) shows out in the Salt Lake City Summer League! pic.twitter.com/HKemGjrEhE
— NBA (@NBA) July 6, 2023
Oklahoma City should not just give up on Mann, but they also don't really have a path to consistent playing time for him either. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Jalen Williams all start for the Thunder and are more than capable creators and playmakers. The Thunder just drafted Cason Wallace, another guard who is much more stout defensively than Mann, with some playmaking juice and is a solid shooter. Lu Dort is still around. Isaiah Joe's gravity as a shooter makes him a bit of a better fit than Mann around these guards.
Oklahoma City just doesn't have room for Tre Mann. He has one year left on his rookie contract before he is set to be a restricted free agent. That's very valuable for another team. They don't have to include a lot of money in a trade to bring him in and could very easily retain him in restricted free agency. Teams should be calling the Thunder about Mann.
2. Aleksej Pokusevski
Much like Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski is entering the last year of his rookie contract. He's also shown flashes of potential. Anybody with skill like this at seven feet tall surely would generate interest across the NBA.
Pokusevski Aleksej … pic.twitter.com/3v2eg9qTSd
— Sasha (@SPokusevski) September 23, 2023
However, much like how Oklahoma City has too many guaranteed contracts on their roster, they also can't pay everybody. Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort are Oklahoma City's only big contracts of note, but they'll have to pay Josh Giddey soon and Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren after that. They're going to have to be careful with who they pay and how much they pay them. That goes for Mann and Aleksej Pokusevski as well.
It might be best for the Thunder to get a draft pick or two for Pokusevski now and keep their books flexible.
1. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is type of tweener that the league is shying away from. His game offensively is that of a four-five hybrid, but his defense on the perimeter leaves some to be desired and isn't quite big or athletic enough to anchor a defense as a center at 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds. There are things he does offer that are quite valuable, however. He is a solid shooter at 34.4 percent for his career on three attempts from deep per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly +2. That's great.
The issue though is Jaylin Williams–a center the Thunder drafted out of the University of Arkansas–is big enough to anchor the Thunder's defense and is a similar or better passer than Robinson-Earl. Williams took Robinson's spot in the starting lineup midway through the 2022-23 season and didn't let it go. With Chet Holmgren now coming back into the fold, it's hard to find playing time for Robinson-Earl. A trade might be best for both parties.