The NBA was relatively quiet in the day leading up to tonight's NBA draft. No James Harden trade, no convoluted four-team deals that barely work in the trade machine much less in real life, nothing. But three hours before the main event, a trade did, in fact happen. The Oklahoma City Thunder are acquiring Al Horford, a second rounder in tonight's draft, and a lightly-protected 2025 first-round pick for Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sam Presti's quest to acquire all of the draft picks continues in earnest, it seems. OKC likes to take on high-priced vets to continue to win while its prized young prospect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to develop, so from the team's end it's a fine trade. The Thunder have the cap space to eat Horford's contract without much trouble. He'll be a good veteran presence on the team.
But holy moly, did Presti do Daryl Morey a huge solid here. Horford's contract was supposed to be arguably the worst in the entire league. He's due to make around $27 million for the next three years and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, averaging a whopping 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30 minutes per game. All the while playing average to below-average defense. It was the definition of an albatross contract that was supposed to clog Philly's cap sheet for the next three seasons.
Not only did Morey manage to dump Horford, he did so without giving up a first-round pick in the next four years! And got Green in return! Green obviously isn't the three-and-D maestro he was earlier in his career, but even if his skills continue to deteriorate he'll be a huge help for the Sixers. The only wing on the roster who can both shoot and defend is Josh Richardson. Everybody else can only do one of the two. Green doesn't push Philly into the championship discussion, but his mere presence means the Sixers have an experienced body to eat up minutes on the wing without being a plus-minus disaster.
Most importantly, they don't have to pay Horford. That's massive for a team whose cap sheet is going to be quite a maze as Ben Simmons' extension kicks in next to Joel Embiid's and Tobias Harris remains employed in the City of Brotherly Love. It was going to be impossible to navigate with Horford. Now it's merely difficult. That slight difference will mean everything to Morey, king of the Twitter trade machine apostles.
This makes a lot of sense for both sides, but Philly fans should be jumping for joy that they got out of Horford's contract without giving up anything substantially valuable. Some of the players the Thunder might take with that pick are currently in middle school. The Sixers are about the immediate future, and this deal just made that future a whole lot brighter.