The Oklahoma City Thunder, with the trade deadline fast approaching, kicked off trade season by dealing breakout prospect Hamidou Diallo to the Detroit Pistons. Diallo, who is currently out with a groin strain, was enjoying a fantastic season. Which included a stretch from January 29th to February 12th in which he averaged 16-points, 6-rebounds, three assists, and a steal per game on 46-percent shooting from the floor. The 22-year-old entered this season as the longest-tenured Thunder player in his third season and is now on his way to Detriot.
The Thunder typically extend players as soon as possible, and when that did not happen with Hamidou Diallo, some eyebrows perked up. However, with him being a restricted free agent, a breakout season that still will not elevate his contract to an unbelievable level, this trade comes a bit out of left field.
The first season for this trade is to tank. Look, the bottom line is, the Thunder as a team gets worse with this trade all for what? A 2027 second-round pick? No, it is for the right to lose. The right to be bad, and get a better chance at Cade Cunningham. If this trade helps OKC land a top-5 pick, and grab one of the many elite players in this class, then so be it. For the here and now though, they get worse.
The second way to look at it, is the Thunder are heading in a different direction under Mark Daigneault, Sam Presti has reversed course on his typical high-level athletes and figure the rest out later mindset. Shooting is a premium in the modern NBA and is finally being treated as such in Oklahoma City. With Ty Jerome, Theo Maledon, and now, Svi Mykhailiuk who comes back in this trade, OKC can have a lineup that surrounds Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with shooters. With Svi be in OKC long term? I would bet the answer is no, but for the here and now, SGA is elite at driving-and-kicking now he has another shooter to add to the mix.
I know what some will say, well, Svi Mykhailiuk is only shooting 33-percent this year from beyond the arc! Well, for his career, Svi is shooting 36-percent, he shot 42-percent a year ago, and in his 39 games with the Lakers shot 36-percent. Svi Mykhailiuk playing with a playmaker like SGA, and in a system that Mark Daigneault provides that we have watched for half a season now generate open looks, I would expect a bump to his percentages in OKC.
If the Thunder considers Svi Mykhailiuk part of the future and not a Justin Jackson, TJ Leaf, Darius Miller like flyer, they would extend the 23-year-old, who turns 24 this summer, relatively quickly. However, I would not expect that to happen.
For Hamidou Diallo, he is now reunited with Troy Weaver, who prior to getting the job with the Pistons worked in the Thunder front office, and joins a Pistons team with an interesting roster construction. While the Pistons gave up nothing to get Diallo, that past connection and this trade seem to signal that Diallo will be locked-up long term in Detroit. As a Restricted Free Agent, of course, the Pistons have the right to match any deal Diallo signs this offseason and keep him as a member of the Pistons.
This move made OKC worse, and can not be the only move made within this trade deadline period. This is a signal that the flood gates are open, and only a few players are untouchable. Buckle up.