Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes proposed two different trades that involved the Oklahoma City Thunder in his latest article that lists out surprising potential offseason trades for lottery teams.
One of the two includes sending Lu Dort and the 30th overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft.
“If I’m the Blazers, I hold out for as long as possible in hopes the Thunder will include their No. 12 selection instead of No. 30. But ultimately, whoever comes off the board at No. 7 may not ever be as impactful as Dort — and that’ll certainly be the case in the stretch of time that matters most to Portland… which is right now.
Damian Lillard will be 32 in July, so the urgency to surround him with playoff-ready talent is high. If the Blazers intend to keep Anfernee Simons as Dame’s high-scoring, similarly undersized partner in the backcourt, they badly need a shutdown wing to wrangle opposing scorers.
The burly 23-year-old wing is an intimidating one-on-one stopper who’s already shown his game holds up in the postseason. There’s certainly a case for OKC keeping Dort, as he’s young and slated to make just $ 1.9 million in 2022-23. But unrestricted free agency and a significant raise are both on the way next summer, unless OKC declines his option and makes him a restricted free agent this July — in which case this deal would be dead.
Dort’s rising cost should matter to the Blazers, but not as much as his ability to get them back to the playoffs in the short term.
On the other hand, the Thunder already have one max salary kicking in for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this coming season. Potential max extensions for Josh Giddey and (eventually) the player they select at No. 2 in the draft might make shelling out $ 20 million per season for Dort an issue.
Better to make a move now, add another potential star at No. 7 and keep accumulating lottery tickets. Realistically, Dort’s presence will not keep the Thunder from landing in the lottery again next year. This rebuild is still in its infancy. His impact on Portland could be far more meaningful. ”
This sounds too good to be true for the Thunder. While Dort is a nice role player who was a found gem by the front office as an undrafted free agent, expecting to get a top-seven pick for him in any draft is quite a reach. Dort is an awesome defensive player whose offense and shooting has blossomed the last two seasons with the Thunder, but if the team can get the seventh overall pick for him, you do that in a heartbeat.
Getting rid of the 30th overall pick is also a plus here as the Thunder avoid handing out a third first-round rookie contract to the three they will already have to pay with second, seventh and 12th overall in this hypothetical. I’m also fairly confident that whoever the Thunder like at 30 will also probably be there at 34, just on a far lesser rookie contract.
Funny enough, this is not the first time Bleacher Report has suggested a Dort to Trail Blazers trade this past week.
2022 NBA mock drafts: Oklahoma City Thunder post-lottery picks projections