Stan Van Gundy can form his [expletive] wall in New Orleans now.
The Pelicans are trading for bruising Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound New Zealander will join 6-6, 284-pound Zion Williamson — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft — in a formidable New Orleans frontcourt.
Adams moves into the starting center spot vacated by Derrick Favors, who left for a three-year deal from the Utah Jazz in free agency. Adams may also be an upgrade. He consistently ranks among the league’s leaders in screen assists on offense and holds opponents well below their season averages around the rim. His impact is felt beyond his 10.9 points (59.2 FG%, 58.2 FT%), 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
The Thunder have long been rumored to be shopping Adams, but the four-year, $100 million extension he signed in 2016 made that difficult in past seasons. He is now entering the final year of that contract, making his $27.5 million contract a potential asset should a star player become available before the trade deadline.
Adams is headed to New Orleans as part of an expansion of an earlier agreed-upon trade with Milwaukee, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That is the same deal that sent Jrue Holiday to the Bucks for a cache of draft assets in return. The Denver Nuggets are also reportedly being looped into a four-team trade.
As part of the deal, the Thunder will also receive George Hill, Darius Miller and two 2023 draft picks.
In return, Oklahoma City adds more draft picks to its embarrassment of riches. According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans will receive Denver’s 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks.
Just as news of Adams’ trade broke, the Thunder agreed to another three-team deal. OKC will send James Johnson’s expiring contract to the Dallas Mavericks, who are shipping Delon Wright to the Detroit Pistons, per The New York Times’ Marc Stein. Trevor Ariza, Justin Jackson and — of course — draft picks are headed to the Thunder. OKC general manager Sam Presti is closing in on 20 first-round picks through 2026.
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