Thunder acquire rookie in trade with Jazz
The Oklahoma City Thunder are shaking up their backup point guard position, acquiring rookie Eric Maynor in a trade with the salary-dumping Utah Jazz.
Maynor, the 20th overall pick in this year's draft, was averaging 5.2 points and 3.1 assists in 26 games with the Jazz this season. He figures to take over as the backup point guard for Oklahoma City, which waived reserves Shaun Livingston and Mike Wilks to clear room for him on the roster.
Kevin Ollie and Kyle Weaver, the usual backups to starter Russell Westbrook, are both injured.
``Eric Maynor is a guy that we liked in the draft last year. We were able to make a deal to bring him into the organization,'' Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. ``We feel like he is a guy that can grow into a role for us.''
Oklahoma City used its flexibility with one of the league's lowest payrolls and agreed to take on the $6.5 million contract of injured veteran Matt Harpring, who won't actually join the Thunder but will take up a roster spot. Harpring, an 11-year veteran, hasn't played this season while recovering from an infection that developed after he had surgery on his ankle in the summer of 2008.
Harpring said earlier this month that he was giving up his comeback attempt, although he didn't say he was retiring. The Thunder stand to have a portion of his salary paid by insurance, limiting their risk in acquiring Maynor.
``We feel like he's someone who fits our direction, and we want the opportunity to work with him,'' Presti said.
The Jazz will get the rights to 2002 second-round draft pick Peter Fehse, who has never played in the NBA and is currently playing in the German League.
``Trading Eric was a difficult decision,'' Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said in a statement. ``But, along with Matt's contract, it greatly helps reduce our luxury tax responsibility. Fortunately, with Deron (Williams) and a proven backup in Ronnie Price we feel that we have depth at that position.''
Maynor made two starts earlier this season while Williams was away from the team, including a career-high 24-point outing against Cleveland.
The trade offers Maynor a reunion of sorts with Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, who recruited him to Virginia Commonwealth before leaving to become the Sooners' coach.
Livingston joined the Thunder late last season after recovering from a gruesome February 2007 injury in which he tore three ligaments in his left knee and dislocated his kneecap. He played in 10 games for Oklahoma City this season, including the past eight in a row after missing just under a month following surgery.
``Shaun Livingston did a great job. We wish him nothing but the best,'' Presti said. ``These are tough decisions. I think it's less about Shaun than our ability to get Eric. Our organization has nothing but positives to say about Shaun and we know that he's going to continue to play in the NBA this season.''
Wilks was signed after Livingston, Ollie and Weaver were all injured and played in four games.