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With trade winds blowing, Thunder have some options



Between now and Feb. 24, most discussion about the NBA will revolve around trade rumors. As that date gets closer, followers of the league will pontificate about which players are on the market. Some teams will throw in the towel for the season and shed high salaried players while other teams will seek to add one final piece that can help them in the playoffs.

Oklahoma City’s Thunder are definitely in the latter category, but are enviable in that they really have no need to make a deal. If they want to, they obviously have the assets: expiring contracts coveted by teams looking to correct salary mistakes, prospects, first-round draft picks, and even some established players who might be available for the right piece. However, with great chemistry, fantastic salary cap positioning and amazing young talent, the team has no need to mortgage their future for a current championship run unless the deal makes great sense.

That said, here are four players of interest the team should consider targeting:

Nenê The Denver center is probably the name most Thunder fans would covet. At 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, Nenê (pictured above) is a domineering presence in the middle that many believe would immediately make the team a long-term contender. Nenê is certainly a beast to be reckoned with and might be the most well-rounded big man that could be acquired.

It would likely cost the Thunder Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Morris Peterson, plus OKC would likely have to assume Al Harrington’s onerous contract. That’s two starters out the door and no guarantee that Nenê would be more than a rental for this season alone.

On the other hand, the deal would open up a starting spot for Serge Ibaka, and Harrington could fill some of the void left by Green.

Chris Kaman Kaman was an All-Star last season for the Clippers averaging 18.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, but with the emergence of Blake Griffin, his services are no longer vital in Los Angeles. Instead, the Clippers would like to get some players that fill bigger holes and extricate the final two years and about $23 million of his contract from their salary cap.

Of course, if he does not return from the ankle injury that has limited him to 10 games so far this season, ignore this.

Ben Wallace Those first two guys are “pie-in-the-sky” pursuits; these last two are more realistic. Wallace is a big-body center who has experience playing for championships as a defensive lynchpin. Unfortunately, he is now 36 years old and languishing for a Pistons team that is going nowhere. He is certainly near the end of his career, but his veteran presence could be huge for the Thunder.

Troy Murphy New Jersey has promised him they would look into a trade for Murphy. He has played the most games of any current player without sniffing the postseason. The Thunder could use his outside shooting ability (39 percent from three for his career) and rebounding as long as the cost is reasonable.

Matthews is an editor of the local news and entertainment blog

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