Brook Lopez may be perfect fit for the Thunder


Brook Lopez has ostensibly been on the trade block for the past 2 months and Brooklyn hasn’t fielded any offers that they believe are of equal value for their big man. With the Nets seeking expiring contracts and young players in exchange for Lopez and Lopez having a salary over $15 million, it makes difficult to find an adequate deal.  Despite his immense offensive abilities and development as a rim protector, teams will be weary of acquiring a player with his injury history.

The Thunder, however, may be willing to take that risk. With Kendrick Perkins’ expiring contract and a bevy of young, affordable, athletic players on their roster, the Thunder have the pieces that could bring Lopez to Oklahoma City.  Even with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook returning, they are out of the playoffs and have gone .500 in their last 10 games.  Now occupying the 10th seed in the Conference, they have the talent to make a playoff run after the All-Star break, but with the Spurs in the 7th seed and both New Orleans and Phoenix improving as the season has progressed, it’s going to be a difficult stretch.

Lopez would give Oklahoma City a true post presence and allow Serge Ibaka to focus more on defense and rebounding.  It would also allow them to move Steven Adams to the bench, improving their second unit, which recently added Dion Waiters.  It would allow them to match up better against Houston and Memphis in the playoffs and force opposing big men to maximize their energy on the defensive end in the half-court.

Along with Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder have young players to deal without affecting their core.  With the acquisition of Dion Waiters and emergence of Anthony Morrow, Jeremy Lamb becomes less integral to their future and could be a piece Brooklyn is interested in. After attempting to acquire Nik Stauskas from the Kings, Lamb could be a nice consolation prize at shooting guard.

Along with Lamb, 2014 first-rounder Mitch McGary could be on the Nets mind should any trade conversations transpire.  McGary is a high-energy player like Mason Plumlee who is an above average offensive rebounder and proved in Summer League that he knows how to utilize his bulk well on the offensive end. Along with McGary and Lamb, Perry Jones may be a potential target if the Nets believe he could develop a consistent jump-shot along to accompany his athleticism.  With Brooklyn short on first-round picks, Oklahoma City’s 2015 first rounder could interest them while allowing the Thunder to keep one of the aforementioned players.

Although the Thunder would be sacrificing two former first-rounders in Lamb and McGary or a potential future first-rounder, Oklahoma City would still have the pieces to make a deep playoff run over the next two years.  A starting lineup of Westbrook, Morrow, Durant, Ibaka, and Lopez would make the Thunder a favorite to not only make the playoffs, but upset one of the current top playoff seeds. With Reggie Jackson, Waiters, Nick Collison, Andre Roberson, and Adams they would also have a second unit with a better combination of scoring and defense.

The acquisition of Waiters may be a good sign for Brooklyn as it shows the Thunder’s willingness to make trades for a playoff push. If the Thunder continue to struggle, that willingness could become even more apparent, which would be an opportune time for the Nets to make a call involving Lopez.