You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Thunder trade for Mo Harkless to get a draft pick

Yardbarker logo Yardbarker 9/28/2022 Sean Keane, Yardbarker
Veteran forward Maurice Harkless © Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports Veteran forward Maurice Harkless

The Oklahoma City Thunder's season was derailed before it began, when No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren injured his foot guarding LeBron James

So with the Thunder prepared to load up the tank once again, GM Sam Presti decided to focus on what he's best at: Acquiring future draft picks. Yesterday, Presti sent 2020 second-rounder Vit Krejci to the Atlanta Hawks for Mo Harkless and a 2029 second-round pick.

Harkless fits into the Disabled Player Exception that OKC received when Holmgren was ruled out for the year. He's a solid defender and a below-average offensive player, but we shouldn't expect to see him necessarily play much for the Thunder, who have a roster full of young players who need time on the court, and likely no interest in making the playoffs when there's a chance at drafting generational big man Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 draft.

Each team had non-basketball reasons for making the deal. For the Hawks, exchanging Harkless' $4.5 million salary for Krejci's $1.5 million deal gets them under the luxury tax. In addition, Krejci's deal is only partially guaranteed, so the Hawks could save another $780K if they release him before January 10. Atlanta likely wasn't playing Harkless, who they acquired along with a first-round pick when they traded Kevin Huerter to Sacramento.

For the Thunder, they wanted that Atlanta 2029 draft pick. They likely weren't using Holmgren's exception on anyone who would actually play for them, so they'll add the 2029 second-rounder to their hoard. They didn't have any extra picks for 2029 yet, and it must have been killing Presti to realize that.

The Thunder also got an asset that could be more valuable: a modification on a 2025 second-round pick the Hawks owed them from the 2020 Danilo Gallinari sign-and-trade. Originally it was protected from picks 31-55. Now it's only protected from 31-40, meaning it's far more likely to actually convey.

Harkless continues his unfortunate journey as trade ballast, one that began when Portland sent him to the Clippers in a multi-team deal in 2019. Since then he's been traded three more times, usually in order to make salaries match. The Thunder will be his fifth team since 2019 — sixth if you count the Hawks, for whom he never suited up. But it's more likely Harkless takes a buyout and his nomadic tour of the NBA continues. At least until the trade deadline.


More from Yardbarker Local: Ft. Smith / Fayetteville

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon