The Oklahoma City Thunder continued a busy offseason Tuesday, trading for the Denver Nuggets’ Joffrey Lauvergne.
The Nuggets will receive two second round draft picks in exchange for Lauvergne.
Lauvergne, 24, was the second round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013. He was traded to Denver while the Grizzlies received Darrell Arthur and Kosta Koufos.
In 59 games last season, Lauvergne averaged 7.9 points on 51.3 percent shooting. Lauvergne has the ability to play the four or the five. Lauvergne shot only 24.5 percent from three last season. Lauvergne has averaged 15.8 minutes in his career, totaling 83 games.
The move further fortified the Thunder’s frontcourt depth. Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary and Domantas Sabonis, along with Lauvergne, will all be under contract this season and are all 24 or younger.
The Thunder now have 16 guaranteed contracts on their roster. They have until opening night on Oct. 26 to get down to 15 men.
The move insights some experts to believe this is a set up to bring the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, who the Thunder have reportedly had their eyes on since Kevin Durant left for Golden State during the offseason.
The Thunder have a backup big man in Lauvergne, whose contract is worth only $1.7 million this season. Kanter would have to be moved in a trade to clear cap space for Griffin, who is scheduled to make $20.1 million during the 2016-17 season.
Another reason Lauvergne could’ve been brought in is that the Thunder are about to cut forward Mitch McGary. McGary is suspended the first five games of the season for violating the league’s drug policy. McGary failed a drug test during the NCAA Tournament in 2014, and the penalty was a yearlong ban from the NCAA. McGary decided to join the NBA, in which Sam Presti, general manager of the Thunder, took a risk on the big man and drafted him.
Last season McGary was absent from the team for personal reasons, and many speculate it was for rehab from an addiction to drugs. The Thunder never specified on the absence, but this trade creates the speculation that McGary may never play for the Thunder again.