Western Notes: Thunder, Ibaka, Grizzlies, Kings

While some observers questioned whether Oklahoma City’s decision to trade Serge Ibaka would have a negative impact on Kevin Durant‘s free agent decision, GM Sam Presti and the Thunder believes it strengthens their position, showing KD that they didn’t want to assume moving forward with the status quo was satisfactory. Royce Young of ESPN.com outlines the Thunder’s thinking, explaining why it made sense for the club to move Ibaka, who perhaps wasn’t a perfect fit for the current roster in OKC.

Young and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com both suggest that Ibaka didn’t love his evolving role with the Thunder, which saw him essentially playing the part of a stretch four this past season. Although he hadn’t requested a trade, Ibaka was considered likely to leave Oklahoma City in free agency a year from now, according to Berger. The CBSSports.com scribe also agrees that the move doesn’t make Durant any more likely to leave the Thunder, pointing out that the team is smartly surrounding him with depth and controllable players, rather than trying to clear cap space and promising free agent pursuits that may or may not pan out.

Let’s check in on a few other Western Conference teams…

  • Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said his team didn’t expect, in its “wildest dreams,” that Deyonta Davis would be available in the second round, writes Tom Schad of The Commercial Appeal. Wallace viewed the Clippers’ 2019 first-rounder as a fair price to pay to acquire Davis at No. 31 and Serbian prospect Rade Zagorac at No. 35.
  • In his discussion of No. 13 overall pick Georgios Papagiannis on Thursday night, Kings GM Vlade Divac expressed optimism about bringing the Greek center to Sacramento for 2016/17, suggesting his buyout wouldn’t be a problem. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com confirms the buyout is worth a very manageable $500K, tweeting that the Kings should have no problem bringing Papagiannis to the NBA right away.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider-only link) has unveiled his draft grades for 2016, and only one team earned an A-plus. That club was the Spurs, who used their only pick of the draft to nab former Washington guard Dejounte Murray at No. 29. Murray has a chance to be an All-Star-caliber guard, in Ford’s view.

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