The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t found a trade partner for shooting guard Alec Burks as of yet, but with the NBA trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the Oklahoma City Thunder are searching for a backup wing, and have interest in Burks, according to The Ringer. Oklahoma City is just one of the many teams that would benefit from acquiring Burks from the Cavs, and while they cannot put together the most attractive offer, it would be an offer nonetheless.
The Thunder have a trade exception worth $10.9 million from the Carmelo Anthony trade to dangle to teams, but it won’t do them much good in this situation. Burks makes over $11.5 million this season, so his contract will not fit into the exception. Oklahoma City will have to part with players in addition to a draft pick or two if they want to add Burks.
The two likely candidates are guard Alex Abrines and forward Patrick Patterson, whose salaries combine to total $10.9 million, which is enough to trade for Burks. Abrines will be a restricted free agent after the season, and the Cavs should extend to him the qualifying offer, which would pay him just under $7 million. This would not be to keep Abrines around, but instead to be able to trade him at next year’s deadline.
Patterson is in the second year of his three-year contract worth $16.4 million. That third season is a player option, which Patterson would likely decline so he could sign with a contending season.
Netting Abrines and Patterson for Burks would save Cleveland some money over other trade options, but it would also leave them with a less valuable contract to trade next season.
Another issue is that the Thunder have already traded their first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2022, so their selections in 2019 and 2021 aren’t available. Rodney Hood fetched two second-rounders, the 17th pick from the 2016 NBA Draft, and Nik Stauskas.
Not only is Burks’ expiring contract three times as valuable as Hood’s, he is also a much better player. In 34 games with the Cavaliers this season, Burks is averaging 11.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.
He is a good slasher, a good passer, a good defender, and plays off the ball very well. One $7 million contract to trade next year and a few second-round picks isn’t enough; the Cavs can surely find a better offer, such as the one that they discussed with the Houston Rockets.
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However, if Cleveland could convince the Thunder to also part with second-year shooting guard Terrance Ferguson, a deal could be worth making. Ferguson is 21 years old, and averages 6.5 points in 23.8 minutes per game, while playing a rather small role. He shoots 44 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Ferguson probably isn’t worth as much as an unprotected first-rounder from a different team, but he’s the best asset that Oklahoma City can give up for Burks without losing a key role player.
If OKC is willing to part with Ferguson, a package consisting of Abrines, Ferguson, Patterson, and a future second-round pick is a decent offer. The Cavaliers can probably find a deal that gives them more draft capital, but finding a better young player than Ferguson available for trade will be more difficult. Still, the Cavs would do well to at least consider this offer, even if they end up accepting another.