Kyle Phillips / AP
Steven Adams will leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the New Orleans Pelicans.
Oklahoma City fans have been quick to complain about the impending loss of Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams as experts predict New Orleans has struck a good deal.
Reports Saturday night (NZ time) from respected basketball writers Shams Charania (The Athletic) and Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) said Adams would be involved in a trade deal that would end his seven years with the Thunder and see him join the Pelicans.
Adams’s reported move is part of a four-way deal. Earlier in the week, New Orleans swapped Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee, where the Bucks sent multiple future hikers in the way of the pelicans. And an expansion of that trade also involved the Denver Nuggets, which will also send picks the way of the Thunder.
Adams has become somewhat of a cult hero to the Thunder as he was acquired by them as the 12th overall pick in the 2013 design, with the 2.11m center establishing itself as a physical presence on the pitch, but also a jovial one of those, with his typically dry sense of humor.
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After 530 regular season games, including 59 playoff appearances – making him 10th all-time in games played for the franchise – comes Adams’ move as the Thunder rebuild their roster.
They’ve already traded 10-time All Star Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, and in recent days fellow point guard Dennis Schroder has moved to the Los Angeles Lakers. Former Thunder coach Billy Donovan has also joined the Chicago Bulls with assistant Mark Daigneault promoted to head coach in OKC.
Adams has one season left on his four-year contract, but at $ 27.5 million, OKC considers collecting draft picks to be more valuable.
With his departure imminent, Thunder fans have been quick to pay tribute to the New Zealander’s stint on their squad.
“Thank you Steven Adams for your time in Oklahoma City,” said a Twitter user.
“One of the funniest and nicest players in the entire league.
“One of the few constants due to constantly changing OKC schedules.
‘Someone I would have liked to see as an OKC lifer.
Another paid tribute to his classic straight-faced homour.
Steven Adams reads all these tweets from Thunder fans and says, “I didn’t die, buddy,” which makes us laugh and then cry a little. “
In New Orleans, Adams will join last season’s top pick, Zion Williamson in the frontcourt, and experts predict the Pelicans have gotten a lot for themselves.
Adams’ former teammate, Kendrick Perkins, who now teams up with ESPN, tweeted that the move was “an AMAZING pickup” for the Pelicans, while Jeremy Woo, a reporter at Sports Illustrated, was also optimistic.
“With Adams, the Pelicans directly address two of the main concerns of last season: defensive rebounding and rim protection,” Woo wrote.
“There may not have been a better player in the market in that regard, 27-year-old Adams has skillfully anchored playoff-caliber teams for the past five seasons.
Adams’ counting stats will never fully reflect how impactful a player he is, but he is almost universally respected for his dedication to doing the dirty work.
“The Pelicans will immediately become a more physically impressive team and hope he sets the tone for their younger players.”
Adams won’t be the first Kiwi influence with the Pelicans, with Sean Marks playing 74 games for them between 2008-2010 when they were known as the New Orleans Hornets, while New Zealand Breakers guard Corey Webster spent a preseason there in 2015.