The Oklahoma City Thunder made their first move of the offseason on Monday when it was announced that they have traded away the No. 30 pick in the 2022 NBA draft and two future second-round picks to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for JaMychal Green and a protected 2027 first-round pick.
The Nuggets — who owned the 11th-highest team payroll this past season and the fourth-highest payroll entering next season — were able to shed $20 million off of luxury taxes by moving Green.
While the presumed headliner of the deal is Green, the real get in this trade for the Thunder is the 2027 first-round pick. While the protections right now are unknown, they really don’t matter because it can’t get any worse than picking 30th overall — which was the case with this year’s draft.
Owning the No. 30 pick is arguably the worst pick to have in an NBA draft as it guarantees a first-round salary to a player who probably would’ve been there in the second round. The difference between a first-round and second-round rookie contract is massive as the former is signed for five years with millions guaranteed the first three seasons while the latter’s contract is significantly smaller than that and can be a non-guaranteed deal as soon as the second season.
The Thunder were never going to use all four of their picks this draft and this was the consolidation trade many expected from the team as they were likely to trade at least one of their picks. Out of the four they previously owned, this one was the most expendable.
The Thunder now get another chance at getting a future first-round pick being better than No. 30 — which, with the odds being 29/30, is likely to happen.
The team also continues to kick the can down the road as the mystery behind how the Nuggets look like in 2027 could entice teams in the future to potentially value that pick much more than it will likely end up being. Who knows how a 32-year-old Nikola Jokic looks like if he’s even on the team five years from now? The Nuggets other two big investments in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have also not returned yet after dealing with serious knee and back injuries.
While the Thunder being forced to give up two future second-round picks along with the first-round pick might sting a little, the team has a huge amount of picks coming during the 2020s — from both themselves and other teams — that losing two second rounders should not cause a lot of lost sleep for the front office and fanbase.
With all that said, what’s next for Green? The 31-year-old is still a solid role player, as he played in 67 games and averaged 16 minutes a night for a playoff team last season. Green’s $8.2 million 2022-23 salary is a bit too rich for someone of his stature —…