OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Undeterred by a trade that was rescinded because of a failed physical, the Oklahoma City Thunder moved ahead Thursday with deals that brought in guard Thabo Sefolosha from Chicago and forward Malik Rose from the New York Knicks.
The Thunder sent a first-round pick in this June’s draft to the Bulls for Sefolosha, who could fill a hole in Oklahoma City’s backcourt. Chris Wilcox, who was supposed to be included in a trade to the New Orleans Hornets for center Tyson Chandler, instead ended up going to New York in the Rose trade.
Oklahoma City also got cash in both swaps completed at the NBA’s trade deadline.
General manager Sam Presti wasn’t gun shy only one day after he had to pull out of a deal that had energized the team’s fan base.
“One thing that I don’t think we let happen was we certainly didn’t make any decisions based on reaction to that situation,” Presti said. “That’s something that we’ve been trying to be thorough with in our process.
“We have to make the intelligent decisions for our organization, take the information that we have and do what we think is in the best interests of the team. We did not alter our process.”
Sefolosha, a third-year player out of Switzerland, could make more of an immediate impact with the Thunder, who expect starting guard Desmond Mason to miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery. Rookie Kyle Weaver has been starting in Mason’s spot since his injury.
“Adding Thabo gives us another defensive-minded perimeter player, someone that can guard multiple positions,” Presti said. “He has excellent athleticism and we feel like he’s another player that we can add to the team that fits well with the group that we have now and we feel like he has a chance to grow as a player.”
Sefolosha has averaged five points and about three rebounds in three NBA seasons since being drafted in the first round in 2006. He lost his starting job in Chicago after a slow start to the season and has been playing mostly as a reserve behind Kirk Hinrich.
The Bulls also had a logjam on the wing after acquiring John Salmons from Sacramento in a six-player trade earlier in the week, even after dealing Larry Hughes to the Knicks in a separate trade Thursday.
To make room for Sefolosha, the Thunder waived center Mouhamed Sene, a former 10th overall pick who hadn’t played since November. The Thunder, then playing in Seattle with Rick Sund as the general manager, drafted him three spots ahead of Sefolosha in 2006.
Oklahoma City was to have three first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Bulls will get either San Antonio’s or Phoenix’s old selection, whichever one comes later.
Rose was a member of San Antonio’s NBA championship teams in 1999, 2003 and 2005 and rejoins Presti, who was part of the Spurs’ front office for the last two of those titles. However, he could face an uphill battle for playing time in Oklahoma City, just as he did in New York. He had played in only three games with the Knicks since late December.
Wilcox himself had been relegated to the bench since the Thunder signed restricted free agent Nenad Krstic in late December, playing in only one of the Thunder’s final five games before the All-Star break.
He then was included with Joe Smith and second-round pick DeVon Hardin in the trade with New Orleans that fell apart on Wednesday.
Kevin Durant, the reigning Rookie of the Year, said “it was kind of a shock” to find out Chandler wasn’t going to join the team after all.
“I’d never seen that before. That was something new to me,” Durant said. “I thought he’d be here today, but he wasn’t. That’s a part of this business. I know our organization made a good move for our team down the line.”
Presti said he didn’t feel any pressure to deal Wilcox despite his inclusion in the Chandler trade. After it was rescinded, it could have made for an awkward return to a situation where he already wasn’t getting his usual playing time.
“Obviously when you’re making deals, you’re looking at several different factors,” Presti said. “His opportunities here from a playing standpoint were limited. This deal surfaced, and obviously having Malik involved in it and the additional compensation, those were things that you weigh when you’re looking to make deals.
“But there wasn’t necessarily an urgency from our standpoint.”
Presti said he also hadn’t heard anything from Smith or his representatives related to a report that the 12-year NBA veteran would ask for a buyout of his contract in hopes of signing with the Boston Celtics for the stretch run.
“I think Joe brings great value to our team and he’s someone that has done a nice job for us this year,” Presti said. “We definitely have interest in him and continue to value him.”