The Oklahoma City Thunder are seemingly one piece away from getting past the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs. This offseason, it will be a goal to find that missing link.
During a chat with readers Tuesday, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman said the team’s greatest need is a shooter to take pressure off of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, one that can also spark the team’s bench. Mayberry identified some targets — Anthony Morrow and Mike Miller — that the team may pursue this summer.
I think the biggest need offensively is a shooter, someone who can alleviate pressure from Westbrook and Durant as an outlet. I love the idea of an Anthony Morrow to be a specialist off the bench. Mike Miller is a solid choice as well. Inside scoring threat is going to have to be developed in-house. Those guys are super expensive as free agents. The best you can hope for there is the Thunder getting lucky and landing someone in the draft who can develop as a low-post scorer.
Morrow, 28, averaged 8.4 points and shot almost 46 percent from the floor, including 45 percent from 3-point range, for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Morrow is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer as, according to HoopsHype.com, he plans to opt out of the final year of his deal.
Miller, 34, was a valuable sharp-shooter for the Miami Heat during their two NBA title runs. He spent this season with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 7.1 points and shooting 48 percent, including a 46-percent mark from downtown. Miller has a player option for the 2014 season.
The Thunder may be more inclined to make a trade for a shooter, according to Mayberry. There are some low-cost free agents, but one name to keep an eye on is Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo.
This free agent class is weak sauce. There are a couple of intriguing names, like Trevor Ariza. But he’s probably going to net a deal that nets him $6 million to $8 million per. You have to remember the Thunder doesn’t get in the free agency game with the bigger names. They’ll throw minimum money at role players. But overbidding in free agency has never been this team’s approach. I think the more likely route is trades. That Kevin Martin TPE is dangling out there, and a guy like Arron Afflalo is just counting down the days until someone comes and rescues him from Orlando. Something to watch.
Ariza, 28, is coming off a career year with the Washington Wizards. He averaged 14.4 points per game with a field-goal percentage of 45 percent. According to reports, Ariza has the Wizards on his “short list” of destinations this summers.
Afflalo, 28, is under contract for two more years in Orlando. But he’s been mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. Afflalo averaged a career-high 18.2 points per game and shot almost 46 percent from the field this season.