Tag Archives: Mike Dunleavy

Thunder Offseason: Trade Partners and Draft Night

sam presti thunder

The Oklahoma City hold two first round picks in this year’s draft. Their own (No. 29) and Dallas’ first rounder (No. 21) obtained from Houston in the James Harden trade. In a daft and offseason that will be filled with intrigue heading into July 1st, assets are a powerful thing to be in possession of heading into the draft. The Thunder are on the cusp of becoming a championship team, having been in 3 of the last 4 Western Conference Finals and being on the losing end of the 2012 NBA Finals. With most of the core pieces in place, the Thunder may use these assets to get that final piece or two to finally get over the edge.

Assets

Other than the two first round picks in a pretty loaded draft, the Thunder also have the $6.6 million dollar Traded Player Exception (TPE) they obtained from the Kevin Martin sign and trade last season. The TPE can be used to trade for a player without having to add any players in order to make the salaries match. For example, Gerald Henderson of the Charlotte Hornets makes $6 million dollars in salary. If the Thunder wanted to trade for him, they could offer the Hornets their TPE for $6.1 million dollars and a draft pick or the draft rights to one of their Euro-stashes.

kevin martin

In addition to the TPE, the Thunder have 2 players in the final year of their contracts. Kendrick Perkins will be making $9.4 million dollars and Nick Collison will be making $2.2 million dollars next season. In addition, if the Thunder pick up Hasheem Thabeet’s final year, he’ll be making $1.25 million. In the NBA, expiring contracts become valuable because the receiving team can trade away a player (or players) of equal cost, but usually with more time left on their contracts. For example, let’s hypothetically say the Spurs were needing to trade Tiago Splitter to make space for Kawhi Leonard’s upcoming extension. Next season Splitter will be making $9.25 million, but has 2 more years left on his contract after that. The Spurs could hypothetically trade Splitter to the Thunder for Perkins and his expiring contract.

Also, the Thunder have a slew of young players all making under $3 million dollars a season (Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Andre Roberson, and Grant Jerrett) and two valuable Euro-stashes in Tibor Pleiss and Alex Abrines. The inclusion of these players in a deal are usually the things that either make or break a deal.

Targets

With Thabo Sefolosha going into free agency and some of the depth of the team either not coming back (Derek Fisher and Caron Butler) or getting older (Collison), the Thunder will probably be in the market for a starting 2-guard and some veteran depth for the bench. So what are some possible targets for the Thunder?

Mike Dunleavy

With Chicago wanting to try their hand in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, the Bulls will have to rid themselves of some salary before even attempting to offer Anthony anything close to a max contract. The Thunder obtained some assets from Miami when they were making their run at LeBron James (and Chris Bosh) in 2010. In that draft, they obtained SG Daequan Cook from Miami and the No. 18 pick for the No. 32 pick. The Bulls will shed some salary by releasing Carlos Boozer via the amnesty clause. But the Bulls will probably need a little more salary shed before they can offer Anthony a max (or very near max) deal. While Dunleavy is a weapon as a 3-point specialist, they probably won’t want to get rid of any of their young (cheap) wings such as Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell. In addition, rumors that Bulls’ Eurostash Nikola Mirotic is ready to join the Bulls may necessitate that the dump even more salary.

dunleavy bulls

The Thunder could target Dunleavy with the TPE, and then try to obtain one of the Bulls’ two first round picks (16 and 19) for the Thunder’s 29th pick. That way, the Bulls shed salary, but still have an asset that allows them to obtain a player in the future, in the form of the TPE. Also, the Bulls trade one of their 1st rounders, but stay in the first round with pick No. 29, albeit at a cheaper price.

Iman Shumpert

At the trade deadline this past season, there were rumors that the Knicks and Thunder were discussing a trade centered around Iman Shumpert and the Thunder’s first round pick. At the time, it was not known whether the Thunder would have a 2nd first round pick. With the season over and the Knicks under new management, it could be a good time to revisit those talks. Depending on how Phil Jackson and coach Derek Fisher view Shumpert could determine whether he is available during the draft.

Arron Afflalo

Probably the most difficult of the trades to do. Difficult, because Afflalo makes $7.6 million, which is too much to fit under the TPE. Unfortunately, the TPE is an all or nothing deal. Either you are able to obtain the player using the TPE or you’re not. TPE’s cannot be used in conjunction with something else in the same transaction. At $7.6 million, the Thunder would have to trade a player or two along with assets such as draft picks or Euro-stashes. So then the question becomes: Do the Thunder view Afflalo as the final piece of the puzzle?

arron afflalo

If you follow the history of the Thunder, you know that they trust in their system and their developmental program. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones will be entering into their 3rd year (or as its called in Thunder lore “The Year”) and Steven Adams will have an another offseason’s worth of training under his belt. So, no, I don’t think they will trade for Afflalo. Players like Shumpert and Dunleavy will take less assets to obtain, so I can definitely see the team going after someone like that.

In an offseason that may feature LeBron, Carmelo, and Bosh as free agents, Kevin Love as a moving target, and a vaunted draft class, you can expect to see plenty of moving parts around the league. With assets in hand, the Thunder may throw their hat into the fray to see what they can come out of it with.

The Eric Maynor Sweepstake

bench maynor

With Eric Maynor’s DNP-CD on Wednesday night, in a blowout of the Denver Nuggets, it was quite apparent that his run with the Oklahoma City Thunder is over. Ten months after suffering a torn right ACL, Maynor’s athleticism and confidence seemed to be wavering to the point that 2nd year guard Reggie Jackson took over sole possession of the back-up point guard duties on the team 25 games into the season. While Maynor’s numbers were never that impressive, his command of the 2nd unit (and sometimes, the 1st unit) showed he had the potential to run his own team.

Back about two years ago, Maynor was being hailed at the best back-up point guard in the league. He led one of the best benches in the league, along with James Harden and Nick Collison. In hindsight, though, it seems that a lot of Maynor’s success was due in large part to James Harden. The former Thunder guard is now the 4th leading scorer in the NBA, with a 26.3 points per game average. The skills that he is currently exhibiting now as a Houston Rocket, were on full display during his first 3 seasons in the league, the last of which culminated with the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year award.

dal_g_thunder_bench_b1_600

Maynor’s game was never dependent on athleticism. He was a prober that constantly tried to find the open man or an open lane, and rarely turned the ball over. After the knee injury, though, what little athleticism Maynor did have was sapped, as was his confidence. Maynor began to drive less and shoot more, leading to career lows in FG% (30%) and assists per game (2.1). Though he was never touted for his defense, that part of Maynor’s game suffered greatly after the injury. He was constantly getting beat off the dribble, which led to either leads dwindling or deficits increasing. After 24 games, the Thunder decided to try Reggie Jackson as their primary back-up point guard. Though not the floor general that Maynor is, Jackson’s athleticism and physical tools lend him to be a better defender and more of a driving threat on offense.

Reggie Jackson, Markeiff Morris

Being that Maynor is a free agent after this season, the Thunder would still like to get some value for him before the trading deadline. Maynor can still play the game, and maybe a change of scenery will help get his confidence back. Maynor’s value may not be that high, but the Thunder can package him with any number of assets to get a necessary piece to their championship puzzle. The Thunder are loaded with picks (Toronto’s top 3 protected, Dallas’s top 20 protected, and Charlotte’s 2013 2nd rounder) and young talent (Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, DeAndre Liggins, and Daniel Orton) that would be very attractive in a deal. I, for one, am not in favor of dealing Lamb, Jones, or Liggins. With the current cost of the top half of the roster, the Thunder will need good, cheap talent to stay in championship contention.

That would leave Maynor and Orton, plus the picks, as the only tradable assets I see on the roster. Being that the only feasible need I see for the Thunder is another bench scorer, hopefully a 3/4 tweener, I’ve decided to become armchair GM for the day, and see what moves I can come up with. Move over Sam Presti, my shine is too bright for the both of us.

Disclaimer: All moves have been approved on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine. Any move involving Daniel Orton would need to get done after January 31st.

Deal 1

  •  Houston get Eric Maynor and the Thunder’s 2014 2nd rounder.
  • Oklahoma City gets Royce White and the rights to either Sergio Llull or Furkan Aldemir.

furkan

Why Houston makes the deal – Houston is loaded with PnR-reliant guards in Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and Toney Douglas. If a defense knows how to defend the PnR effectively, it cuts off the Rocket’s first plan of attack. Having a traditional point guard would be a change of pace for the Rockets and will allow them to exploit other facets of their offense, such as Omer Asik’s post game and Chandler Parson’s 3 point shooting. Also, Houston gets rid of a headache in White. The verbal/social media sparring that has gone on between White and the Rockets is well documented concerning his mental health.

Why Oklahoma City makes the deal – While this eschews the notion of obtaining a bench scorer now, having the rights to either Llull or Aldemir would be a steal. Llull is the premier combo guard in Euroleague and would fit immediately into the Thunder’s rotation. Aldemir is great on the boards and would really help the Thunder in the post. Presti would probably tell White to stay at home and would negotiate a buy-out with his agent.

Deal 2

  • Milwaukee gets Eric Maynor, Daniel Orton, and the Mavericks top 20 protected pick.
  • Oklahoma City gets Mike Dunleavy

Why Milwaukee makes the deal – Milwaukee will be in a state of flux after the season. Their top two point guards, Brandon Jennings and Beno Udrih, are both free agents, though Jennings is restricted. The Bucks have been on record as saying they will retain Brandon Jennings, no matter what. A large enough extension would make retaining Udrih, currently making $7.8 million, nearly impossible. A cheap replacement like Maynor, who would sign for far less, would be more feasible. They could test drive Orton for half a season as all of their true centers are also free agents at the end of the season. The draft pick is just a sweetner.

mike-dunleavy-jr

Why Oklahoma City makes the deal – Mike Dunleavy would immediately have an impact on the 2nd team as a scorer and shooter. The dribble and drive ability of Jackson would open up even more with Dunleavy and Kevin Martin on the floor together.

Deal 3

  • New Orleans gets Eric Maynor and the Thunder 2013 draft pick
  • Oklahoma City gets Al-Farouq Aminu

Why New Orleans makes the deal – With Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, and Robin Lopez on the front line, Aminu becomes the odd man out. His inconsistent play has been a source of ire from the Hornet’s fan base. A veteran point guard would help this young roster out and an extra first rounder will help in the Hornet’s rebuilding process.

aminu

Why Oklahoma City makes the deal – Aminu is exactly the type of player that the Thunder covet. A 3/4 tweener with possible upside and a long wingspan (7’3!!). In the right system, he could be a valuable contributor off the bench.

Deal 4

  • Phoenix gets Eric Maynor, Daniel Orton, the right to swap either of their lottery picks (theirs or the Lakers’) lottery picks if it benefits the Suns, and the Thunder’s 2013 pick.
  • Oklahoma City gets Jared Dudley

Why Phoenix makes the deal – Let’s face it. Phoenix is rebuilding and is not interested in long-term role player contracts. Dudley still has 2 years at $4.25 million guaranteed after this season, plus a player option for the same amount. Phoenix could flip Dudley for a young center, a possible better lottery pick, and a late first rounder.

dudley

Why Oklahoma City makes the deal – The Thunder get a great role player with a good contract for the next 2-3 seasons. Plus, a player like Dudley has value and can possibly be flipped for other assets.

Deal 5

  • Cleveland gets Eric Maynor and Dallas top 20 protected pick.
  • Oklahoma City gets CJ Miles

cj miles

Why Cleveland makes the deal – It isn’t the Anderson Varejao deal, but Cleveland still gets a future first rounder for a role player that’s a free agent after this season. Plus, Maynor could dispense some veteran wisdom onto Kyrie Irving.

Why Oklahoma City makes the deal – The Thunder get a good role player that can shoot and stretch the floor. Plus, they don’t give up much.

kevin-durant-eric-maynor-2011-2-6-0-1-11

As a fan, I would hate to see Maynor go. He’s grown with this team and was a big part of its development. But, as we’ve seen with the Jeff Green and Harden trades, it is also a business in which every team is trying their hardest to get better. If a move can be made, and it is advantageous to the team, then it’s a deal that must be made. When the inevitable happens, I wish Maynor nothing but the best. He’s been a consummate professional and has a long career ahead of him.

Interview With A Beard

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview the great James Harden’s Beard. Needless to say, it was a life changing event. After the interview, everything has became so much more clearer to me. Colors are brighter. Sounds are crisper. Smells are more odorous. And I’ve added 6 inches to my vertical. So without further ado, I bid you the interview.

(Pre-interview)

Me: Let me start by saying it is a pleasure and an honor to be in your presence. This interview could be a career changer for me.

Beard: This won’t just be a career changer, my friend. It will be life-altering. Many people have dropped everything they were doing, and have decided to follow me. I like to call them my Beard-sciples. And there are definitely more than 12.

Me: Wow, so would you say you have a cult following?

Beard: It’s not a following. It’s a way of life. Getting your Beard on allows to see things in a way that you’ve never seen them before. My Beard-sciples break their lives up into 2 parts: BB and AB. Before Beard and After Beard. There is no in-between.

Me: Interesting. Well, let’s go ahead and get this started.

(Interview)

Me: Hello, I’m Alex Roig of www.nowthatsthunderbasketball.wordpress.com and www.HoopsTalkNation.com , and I have the distinct honor of interviewing one of the greatest entities of our time. The Dalai Lama once said “When I seek peace, I always look for my inner Beard.” The President once sent the Beard to Russia to negotiate the release of 2 captured American reporters. Needless to say, the Cold War ended when he was done with his trip. 

First off, welcome and thank you for this opportunity. As revered and well-known as you are, you’re also a bit of a mystery. You’re known by many names, but what do you like to be called?

Beard: Well, my creator named me Beardfjelfioeualkjfdlskjfoisdjlfksdjsnuffalufagousgarciaortizrodriguezmikeandmikeinthemorning. But the “fjelfioeualkjfdlskjfoisdjlfksdjsnuffalufagousgarciaortizrodriguezmikeandmikeinthemorning” is silent. In fact, I joke with Serge (Ibaka) all the time that my name is actually longer than his real name and I have no spaces. The first time I said it, he got mad and gave me this look.

 

Feeling threatened, I put him in the cobra clutch and subdued him. We have since become great friends and, as Mike Dunleavy can attest, I have passed the secrets of the cobra clutch on to him. 

I’m also known as James Harden’s Beard, The Beard, Beard, Bearded One, Jeff Bearden, The Great JHB, The Most Interesting Beard in the World, Brian Wilson’s Nemesis, Brett Keisel’s Darker Brother, Rick Ross’s Homey, and Bob. But, I prefer to go just by Beard.

Me: Interesting. So, one of your aliases is James Harden’s Beard. Describe your relationship with Mr. Harden.

Beard: Well, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Animals in the wild will sometimes form alliances with other different types of animals that benefit both parties. That’s how our relationship works. He’s my vehicle and my protection. He carries me and I carry the message. In return, I give him powers beyond belief. As I grow bigger, his skills become more diverse and more immense. He’s gone from 2nd Team All-Rookie, to possible 6th Man of the Year this season, to probable future All Star selection. Can you imagine when I reach the floor?

Me: How did you guys come together?

Beard: I’ve always had James. Many people think I grew out of him. It is quite the opposite in fact. I allowed James to manifest himself and become a man. He didn’t always have the beard, you know.

When he was mature enough to handle the responsibility, I appeared. And I’ve been growing ever since.

Me: It seems like a lot of this is based on James’s maturity. If he ever digresses, will you move onto another subject?

Beard: It all depends. There’s a judgment period after what we call, ‘the great betrayal.’ It usually involves the person wanting to cut us off. If that happens, we then judge the person and see if we want to stay with that subject or not. It all depends on what James does if he ever commits that betrayal. We give our subjects free will to do as they please.

Me: How many of you are there?

Beard: That question is so subjective. How many of you are there out there? (Me: Just one) But there are over 6 billion people out there in the world. It’s all relative. There’s only one James Harden’s Beard. But there are plenty of beards out there.

Me: What are your feelings towards people making shirts based on your likeness and people wearing fake beards trying to imitate you?

Beard: They say imitation is greatest form of flattery. I don’t fault or look down on those people. Unlike Charles Barkley, I want to be a role model.  There’s a message I’m trying to spread and silence will get you nowhere. The more free advertisement I get, the better.

Me: Is there anyone in the NBA community that you have a kinship with?

Beard: Well, me and Baron Davis’s Beard are tight. Baron even touched me one time. And it may surprise you, but me and Chris Kaman’s Beard work out often. That crazy wannabe German.

Me: Okay, word association time: Razors

Beard : Weapons of mass destruction

Me: James Harden’s mother

Beard: Working on her to like me

Me: Brian Wilson’s Beard

 

Beard: My nemesis

Me: OKC

Beard: My home

Me: Restricted free agency / possible extension

Beard: Not thinking about that right now

Me: Brushes and picks

Beard: My tools

Me: Person with a surprisingly great beard

Beard: Rumble the bison

Me: One last question: Who pulls more women, you or James?

Beard: A beard never kisses and tells.

Me: Thank you sir.

Beard: The pleasure was all mine.