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Best possible trade destinations for Steven Adams before deadline

The Thunder are in the playoff chase, so they may opt not to sell off assets. However, we’ll look at the best fits for Adams regardless.

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams grabs a rebound against Sacramento Kings center Dewayne Dedmon during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Many believed the Oklahoma City Thunder would enter this season and be toward the bottom half of the Western Conference and potentially entire NBA. When you trade away two top 15 players in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, that’s what people are going to say about your team. Instead of laying down and accepting their fate, the Thunder are having a very fine season.

Chris Paul is playing at a high level and doesn’t need to carry the team as much. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has taken a big jump in his second NBA season and role players like Dennis Schroder, Danilo Gallinari and Nerlens Noel have all stepped up. Still, there are rumors flying around that Steven Adams may be on the move — Gallo and CP3 are also in that group. If Adams were to be moved, where might he end up? And which teams are the best fit? Let’s take a look.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have been rumored to be targeting a big man to pair with John Collins and Trae Young. Clint Capela’s name was just thrown out there by Shams Charania, but that seems a bit like it may cost Atlanta more assets. Adams’ contract is less appealing, which may make it easier to pry him from the Thunder. He’s making $25M this season and $27.5M next year. A front court of Adams and Collins, paired with Young and rookies Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter gives the Hawks a very strong base to move up in the East.

Now, let’s talk logistics, courtesy of ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine! So this is a pretty easy for the Hawks to make work, mostly because of Chandler Parsons’ expiring contract worth $25.1M. Ultimately, the Hawks would just need to include a prospect and/or a pick. Would OKC want one of Reddish or Hunter in return? That seems like a lot considering Adams is 26 and only has one year left on his contract. However, it would be wise for the Hawks to try and win while Trae Young is on his rookie contract.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics desperately need help in the front court and adding a big body appears to be paramount. It’ll be tough to work and GM Danny Ainge may have to deal away somebody fans will be upset about. As currently constructed, I just don’t think the Celtics can get past any of the teams surrounding them in the playoffs. The Bucks, Heat, 76ers and Raptors all have much more size and length, not to mention depth. Adams would fix that problem a bit and add some more grit and jam to the lineup. Boston’s way to winning is through team basketball and defense is key.

The only real trade that I can cook up would be involving Gordon Hayward and his $32.7M salary this season. Otherwise the Celtics would have to move Marcus Smart at $12.5M and a few other pieces to fit in Adams’ salary. Robert Williams could also go back the other way with Hayward and throw in Andre Roberson’s expiring at $10.7M and things work out OK. It’s not ideal, but the Celtics would then be able to throw out defensive lineups like Kemba Walker, Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Adams.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have a few players who are rumored to be on the block. Dewayne Dedmon wants out and he’s publicly voiced that. Bogdan Bogdanovic seems likely to be traded before the deadline as well. Richaun Holmes has been dealing with injuries, and is probably better suited at the 4 anyway. Marvin Bagley III in my eyes is more of a 3 than a 4 as well. So the Kings essentially don’t have a legit center. Adams would fill that role and bring some defensive toughness. He’d have another year left on his deal, so you’d have De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bagley, Holmes and Adams as a potential lineup.

So this is an easy one to work out. Dedmon and Bogdanovic for Adams straight up. It gives the Thunder a replacement for Adams at center — though Nerlens Noel can fill that void. Plus, adding another shooter on the wing isn’t a bad call either. Is Bagley someone who the Kings would consider parting with? It doesn’t seem likely, but the salaries would match up and the Thunder need some more depth in the front court. Maybe if OKC adds in another young piece like Hamidou Diallo and we’re cooking?