The Oklahoma City Thunder executed a trade at Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline which sent George Hill to Philadelphia in a three-team deal. The Thunder acquired two second-round picks for 2025 and 2026 along with Austin Rivers from the New York Knicks, and Tony Bradley from Philly.
In his post-practice press conference, Mark Daigneault told those of us in the media that neither Tony Bradley nor Austin Rivers has reported to the team yet. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said each is working with OKC Thunder general manager Sam Presti on “The next steps.”
This sent Thunder twitter into a whirlwind on this gorgeous Friday afternoon. What is happening? Will either of them ever report? Are they being bought out?
Well, all we know for sure is what Mark Daigneault said, they are not with the team and are working with Sam Presti. Now, let’s allow ourselves to read into it and speculate, you know the fun stuff.
I understand why speculation around if Tony Bradley will join the team is running rampant especially as you look around the NBA and see that the Bulls already list Nikola Vucevic, who they got in a trade on Thursday with Orlando, as available for Saturday’s game against San Antonio. It certainly is something to monitor.
However, there are always “next steps” when someone is traded. It can be to figure out ramp-up plans, travel plans, or yes, even a buyout. Of all years to have a “next step” that must be worked out it is this year with the COVID protocols to work through.
If I had to guess, the “next step” comment from Mark Daigneault, who has been uniquely open with the media all year, was a blanket statement to not single out the veteran guard Austin Rivers. If I was betting on what is to happen moving forward, Austin Rivers is bought out and Tony Bradley joins the team at some point.
Tony Bradley, like Rivers, has no guaranteed money past this year. The Thunder have a bit of a log-jam at Bradley’s position needing minutes for Isaiah Roby, Aleksej Pokusevski, Kenrich Williams, Moses Brown, and Al Horford, though Horford with the way the April schedule lines up, is in line to rest a ton in the next month.
I think there is a pathway for minutes for Bradley, but if the team does not see him as a long-term fit and know right away they have no intentions of re-signing the 23-year-old who is on the cusp of 24, there would not be much of a point to bring him in.
It is all speculation at this point, but reading the tea-leaves, it seems as though this is just an accurate but blanket statement to include both players. While neither player has reported yet, as it took Svi Mykhailiuk a day or so to join the team, eventually Bradley will and Rivers will not.
After waiving Meyers Leonard yesterday, the team is back to a 17-player roster (including two-ways), waiving Austin Rivers frees up a roster spot as would Bradley to put you two spots under the maximum in a year that bodies could be a premium for the 8-man requirement to play in this COVID season at any given time.
It does not seem likely that the Thunder would care to play with two or three open roster spots with a Mike Muscala decision still to come. The only roster move left would be to convert Moses Brown to a full-time NBA deal which lacks motivation with the two-way rule changes this year.
We will get our decision soon enough, maybe even in the pre-game media availability prior to tomorrow’s contest. If not, it has to be soon, for players to be eligible for the postseason after being bought out by their current team, they must be bought out by April 9th.