The ending of the 2023-2024 Playoffs was not what the Oklahoma City Thunder wanted, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the Western Semi-Finals.  As each and every team that makes the playoffs in the NBA, the goal is to make the FINALS and win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, signifying the Championship won.

The loss in Dallas was close, as the Mavs took a 117-116 win in game six, but OKC had a season to remember.  They won the Western Conference regular season and a first round playoff series over the New Orleans Pelicans, sweeping the 4 games to fresh out.  The Thunder became the youngest team in NBA to accomplish the two feats.

Let us move on to the 2024-2025 season and see what we might expect from the Thunder.  First, General Manager Sam Presti holds all the secrets on what he will try to improve this team.  He has set up the team to be on their current upward course to reach the NBA Finals in, hopefully, a short time frame. Might it be next year, or the next, or in four or five, Presti has made the team viable in the next years as a contender that the rest of the league will have to deal with.  The Thunder, along with other successful teams, will battle it out, and with that, the expectations on Reno Street in downtown OKC are as high as any in the Association.

Discussion on what this team can do in the next few months to make another advancement, range from getting another big man to help Chet Holgren move to a wing as the Thunder become more dominate in their post play, on offense and especially on defense; on what Presti will do with Josh Giddey and his future with the Thunder; what OKC will do in regard to the NBA Draft will also be taken under consideration. 

As of GM Presti, consideration on the salaries of the players comes into play, not only for 2024-2025, but the next many years, as the team gets older, and each player qualifies for enhanced paychecks.  Can the Thunder afford to keep the most significant players which has put them where they are now?  Will Shai-Gilgious Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Jalen Williams want as much money as they can get under the NBA contracts? Is it workable with the new NBA salary scale?  Can OKC keep the base stars in fold, and pay any added super star?  Presti will have a plan, but one that can change on a dime depending upon what the future brings.  The GM will take into account injuries, player decisions as of their attitude toward their careers, and the financial situation of the team and league will come into play as he makes the moves.

My take on the situation is as follows.  Presti will work at signing a significant free agent, using draft choices and current players to bolster the interior defense and find another big that can rebound and shoot the three.  Look for a big name player but not some older player that is on his last years of his career.  A Lauri Markkenden over a Paul George, for example, young and ready to fit in with the current group.  Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, or Kendrick Williams are three current Thunder players that could be gone this summer in working a deal.  With numerous draft choices available, the deals can be made. 

My list of the least tradable players on the roster, with significance on the team importance, is as follows:

  1.  Shai Gilgeous Alexander

  2.  Chet Holmgren

  3.  Jalen Williams

  4.  Cason Wallace

  5.  Lu Dort

  6.  Jaylin Williams

  7.  Isaisha Joe

  8.  Aaron Wiggins

  9.  Kendrick Williams

  10.  Josh Giddey

  11.  Ousmane Dieng.

The balance of the team are basically interchangeable and could and would be traded to meet the needs of the trading partner with Presti’s approval.

Look for Presti to make moves up, or down, in the draft, depending upon his targets for improvement. Draft night will be an exciting night for the Thunder.

The opening roster for OKC in October 2024 will have a new look and the core will be significantly better to deal with teams like Denver, Minnesota, and Dallas.  Improvement will come in the front court.  Plus, it is of my opinion that Giddey will be moved.   If Presti can sweeten the drink for the Utah Jazz, a starting lineup of SGA, J-Dub, Holmgren, Markkanen, and Dort might be what Presti is looking for.  OKC gets that needed player from Utah and the Jazz begin to build for the future with some significant OKC draft picks and who know who from OKC?

Feature Photo: AP  (Markkanen to join Holmgren for 2024)


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