ESPN, The Athletic give trade grades for Thunder-Celtics deal

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics both achieved something they were looking for in the trade centered around Al Horford and Kemba Walker.

OKC got a first-round draft pick and the chance to gain even more assets if they can have another successful reclamation project.

Boston added a high-quality starting center and added frontcourt depth while increasing their financial flexibility.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and The Athletic’s Zach Harper both provided trade grades and instant reactions to the deal with varying degrees of enthusiasm for both sides.

READ MORE: Every future Thunder draft pick

TRADE TALK: Reactions from dealNew Kemba Walker trade rumors have begun

ESPN

Thunder grade: A-minus Celtics grade: C-plus Pelton talked about Presti's history of taking on contracts in exchange for draft capital, going back to Kurt Thomas in 2007. He talked about the Thunder's ability to rebuild players and then trade them for more value, such as Chris Paul.

"Can Presti pull it off again by trading Walker for value on his way out? It's certainly possible. If Walker can stay healthy next season, his contract might not look so onerous with a year and a half remaining, particularly if Oklahoma City is again willing to utilize future cap space to take on a longer-term deal."

It's not all green pastures, though. Pelton notes that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the future of the point guard position on the Thunder, and the team doesn't want the ball out of his hands. It's also worth noting that the Thunder also like Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome at guard.

"As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if Oklahoma City tried to move Walker again this offseason rather than waiting for him to rebuild value. We'll see whether the Thunder can again manage to get paid with a first-round pick on both sides of the transaction."

As for the Celtics, Pelton talked about how there is now a logjam at frontcourt depth and a lack of point guard power, though it is good that Boston gained financial flexibility.

"From a basketball standpoint, I'm not sure Boston got any better with this deal."

The Athletic:

Thunder grade: B-plus Celtics grade: B-minus Harper has learned not to second-guess Presti.

"The Thunder sat down Horford during the middle of the season because they didn’t want him to improve things too much on the court and they knew him getting hurt wasn’t going to help his trade value. And what happens? Months later, they move him for a first. "Doing the same with Kemba Walker could be tricky, but I guess doubting Presti at this point might be futile."

To Harper, this trade was about getting more draft capital and allowing Walker to be a new mentor for Gilgeous-Alexander. He didn't like the deal as much for Boston, though he does approve of it more than Pelton does. Harper mentioned Tom Thibodeau, who was often criticized as the decision-maker for the Minnesota Timberwolves when he simply went after players who he had coached on the Chicago Bulls. Brad Steven's very first move as the head of the Celtics was in the same vein.

"Stevens is only the executive now, but will he think like the coach version of himself? Horford is someone he trusts and is familiar with on many levels. But does a 35-year old Horford solve their problems? And should it have cost a first-round pick in the process?"

Harper thinks Horford could be a backup center when Time Lord's time comes.

"Horford’s return to the team maybe gives them some immediate insurance just in case Robert Williams III isn’t ready yet to be the full-time starting center. Horford is so amiable that he’ll come off the bench to fill out the depth if needed. And we know after last season, that depth is sorely needed."

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