Report: OKC Thunder tried to trade up in 2021 NBA Draft to select Evan Mobley

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A new report indicates that prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting Evan Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder made a spirited bid to trade with the Cavaliers.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about the potential trade during a conversation with draft analyst Mike Schmitz.

“Last year they tried to move up, tried to get up to three for Evan Mobley,” said Wojnarowski. “I think if the Thunder had the No. 1 pick last year, they would have taken Mobley. He was there at three, but they could not pry him out of Cleveland.”

While the Thunder have a wealth of future first-round picks, Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman seemingly never considered the idea of dealing away the third overall pick.

“But it’s rare when somebody trades out of there,” Wojnarowski said. “For all the picks the Thunder have…Koby Altman knew what he had [in Mobley]. I don’t think Sam Presti could have offered him enough to get him out.”

Exactly what type of trade package the Thunder offered the Cavaliers for the pick is uncertain. However, it’s clear that whatever potential deal was suggested didn’t come close to the value the Cavaliers felt that Mobley had.

That confidence by the Cavs paid off handsomely as Mobley delivered an outstanding rookie campaign that helped the Cavs reach the play-in portion of the postseason.

While Mobley narrowly missed out on being named NBA Rookie of the Year, the Cavaliers remain enthusiastic about the 20-year-old’s overall abilities.

During the 2021-22 regular season, Mobley averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. Those overall talents worked well in tandem with center Jarrett Allen and help explain why the Cavs were able to improve so much after three straight losing seasons.

For the 2022 NBA Draft, the Cavaliers have the 14th overall pick, which doesn’t figure to garner anywhere near the interest that their position last year did. The Thunder still have a jaw-dropping amount of future top picks to offer other teams, and they’re undoubtedly hoping that they’ll have more success in their next trade effort.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.