The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the most flexible teams in the entire NBA. When it comes to trades between now and the deadline, they’re going to be a team that could be involved in many ways.
The Thunder have one of the NBA’s lowest payrolls, meaning any move they make between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline doesn’t have to match in terms of salary. In theory, Oklahoma City could absorb nearly any player’s contract without having to give back any salary in return.
Additionally, they’ve got an open roster spot now. Following a transaction with the Utah Jazz last week, the Thunder ultimately waived Gabriel Deck while obtaining a future second-round pick. As such, the 15th and final spot on the roster is now open.
Over the next several weeks as trades are discussed, this gives the Thunder even more flexibility. Not only can they make nearly anything work financially, but they can also work deals in which they bring back an extra player.
Oklahoma City will look to make moves directly with other NBA teams, but could also be used as a third-party in larger deals. There are many teams that will be looking to dodge the luxury tax, reduce payroll, or even find a third team to re-route players and salary. The Thunder are perfectly positioned to help in those scenarios, and get paid in draft capital and young talent for doing so.
Most recently with some of the veterans he has brought in to Oklahoma City on large contracts, Thunder GM Sam Presti has proven he’s willing to take on unwanted salary as long as he gains assets along the way.
Clearing this roster spot last week also leaves room for promotion. Rookie Aaron Wiggins is currently on a two-way contract, but would be a prime candidate to be converted to a full-time NBA deal. This would fill the final roster spot for the rest of the season.
On the season, he’s averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 51.4% from the floor. Over his last eight games since becoming a temporary starter, Wiggins has produced 14.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.
In order to stay flexible, it doesn’t make sense for OKC to promote him now. It’s most likely that the Thunder front office will keep that roster spot open until after the trade deadline. Once that has passed, if the Thunder still have an open spot, it would be the perfect time to convert Wiggins’ contract.
Additionally, that would allow the Thunder to bring a new two-way player onto the roster to begin developing.
With one month until the NBA trade deadline, the Oklahoma City Thunder are positioned to be flexible and ready to make a variety of moves. Down the stretch of the season, there could be several new faces on the roster.