Even though the trade deadline this year in the NBA was relatively quiet, there were still some significant enough moves that affect the Oklahoma City Thunder and their chances at an NBA title directly.
The first of two trades involving OKC was the dealing of reserve point guard Eric Maynor. After suffering a torn ACL last season, Maynor has struggled to find his rhythm this year and has not returned to the form that made him a valuable backup to Russell Westbrook.
In return for Maynor, the Thunder didn't really get anything tangible (the draft rights to Giorgio Printezis and a trade exception), but in the process they opened up a roster spot for their other deal.
Oklahoma City and GM Sam Presti decided to ship off a second-round pick to the New York Knicks for veteran guard/forward Ronnie Brewer. The seventh-year player from from the University of Arkansas started this season in the starting five for the Knicks, but his shooting woes left him out in the cold as the year progressed.
This deal has Presti's name all over it, since Brewer is a lock-down perimeter defender who hustles and can score when needed. Essentially, he's a more polished version of teammate DeAndre Liggins, and Brewer's experience will definitely shine through in the crunch time of the postseason.
In terms of how other deals will affect the Thunder, there isn't much to see. The biggest deal was probably the Houston Rockets acquiring rookie forward Thomas Robinson, but that would push them a little backwards this season, if anything, since the young big would have to work his way into their system.
The team to beat for Oklahoma City, though, is still the Miami Heat, who made a somewhat interesting move at the deadline by clearing out project player Dexter Pittman plus a second-round pick for cash considerations. This opened a roster spot on the Heat, which could be filled by former first overall pick Greg Oden.
While I'm not implying that Oden would make an immediate splash on Miami, he would certainly have a chance to be an unpredictable variable against Oklahoma City should these teams meet again in the NBA Finals.
On the Thunder's side, the small but effective acquisition of Brewer was certainly very helpful in the team's hopes for capturing an NBA championship.
In order to get back to the Finals for a shot at a title, the Thunder will have to go through plenty of talent in the Western Conference, including some quality offensive players at shooting guard and small forward. Oklahoma City has a defensive stopper in starter Thabo Sefolosha, but it's comforting for head coach Scott Brooks to know that he has a player of equal caliber waiting on the bench, ready to take on any defensive assignment.
Brewer's ability to play both guard and forward allows him to fit into a lot of lineups alongside Sefolosha for defensive-heavy sets or even with the starting squad when Thabo has foul trouble or needs a breather.
This trade with the Knicks registers as a pretty small blip on the radar for the rest of the league, but the Thunder know that they are getting a quality player in Brewer, who will be thrilled to be in a championship-hungry environment in OKC.
Though a lot of Thunder fans may have been calling for a more drastic change (mainly dealing Kendrick Perkins) in order to bulk up the championship chances, this minor move made by Presti may end up proving to be of great importance down the stretch.