NBA Roundtable

2010 Cap Space: Oklahoma

In Free Agency, General NBA, Trade Talk on June 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm

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Oklahoma City Thunder Salaries

Contracts above $5 million

  • Nick Collison – $6.75 million
  • Kevin Durant – $6.05 million
  • Nenad Krstic – $5.54 million

All three players are entering the final year of their respective contracts.

They combine to make $18.34 million.

Rest Of Team’s Salaries

  • Jeff Green – $4.46 million
  • James Harden – $4.3 million
  • Russell Westbrook – $4.02 million
  • Thabo Sefolosha – $3 million
  • Eric Maynor – $1.42 million
  • BJ Mullens – $1.2 million
  • Serge Ibaka – $1.2 million
  • DJ White – $1.11 million

All of the above players (eight) are on rookie scale contracts except for Thabo Sefolosha who will just be beginning a new contract extension. Jeff Green will be the entering the final year of his rookie deal, while Westbrook + White enter the third seasons of their contracts. The rest will be starting their sophomore campaigns.

Those contracts amount to $20.71 million and take the Thunder’s total up to $39.05 million.

Other Costs

  • Draft Picks — Oklahoma own three first round draft picks, the #18, #21 and #26 picks which come with cap holds valued at $1.24 million, $1.09 million and $900k respectively. A total of $3.23 million.
  • Non-Guaranteed Contracts — Kyle Weaver has a non-guaranteed salary of $940k for next season. The contract becomes guaranteed if he’s not waived prior to the 1st August. It now looks like Weaver’s time in Oklahoma is coming to an end so I’m not going to include him.
  • Open Roster Spots — No additional roster spot charges

The additional costs here amount to $3.23 million.

That gives us a new total of $42.28 million.

The Cap

David Stern recently announced

NBA commissioner David Stern said on Friday that the league is projecting the cap to come in at about $56.1 million. The actual number won’t be determined until early July, before teams can begin officially signing players.

Though that figure would still be lower than this season’s $57.7 million cap, it’s far better than estimates from last summer, when the league sent a memo to teams warning them of a potential sharp drop to between $50.4 million to $53.6 million.

2010 Cap Space

So, the Oklahoma City Thunder will have $13.82 million in cap space next summer.

Summer Options

Background Information

The major issue here for Oklahoma is the cost of re-signing their own players down the road.

  • Kevin Durant will be due a maximum contract in 12 months time which will cost 25% of the cap. Say $13-14 million.
  • Jeff Green will also be up for a new contract and he looks a good bet for at least $8 million per annum + a good chance of earning $10-11 million per year.
  • Russell Westbrook is continually improving and is worth $10 million per annum already. There’s a fair chance he’ll be a max contract or a near-max contract in two years time.
  • So we’re looking at an initial estimate of $35 million between the three of them as starting salaries. With maximum raises of 10.5% annually. That’s with two of them starting new contracts in a year’s time, and the other one the year after that.

Oklahoma does have some other positives here cap wise

  • Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison are expiring contracts. That’s almost $13 million in available funds. Almost enough to pay for Durant’s first year salary.
  • They’ve signed Thabo Sefolosha to an extremely good contract (one of the best in the league) at $3-4 million per season.
  • Oklahoma also has a bunch of young players on rookie salaries which will ease the salary burden over the first 2-3 years … but they also have one other high lottery pick in James Harden who may be worth substantial money down the road too.

Okay, walking in circles here … re-group.

Oklahoma doesn’t have much cap space. They need to keep a good deal of their cap flexibility open for their young players or else discard one their top three players in order to pay for another big contract.

The Thunder could easily fit another $10 million contract into their payroll, both today and down the road. A $15 million contract would squeeze things a bit but would be manage-able. A contract that gets to $20 million a year could make things very complicated down the road (unless ownership is willing to pay luxury taxes of course) and will likely be avoided.

My best guess on Oklahoma’s future plans is:

  • Option One — Sign a $10 million a year big man who can be the club’s defensive anchor and leading rebounder. If he has an offensive game that’s a bonus.
  • Option Two — Be willing to move Jeff Green in order to make room for another max contract (sign and trade?) alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and make a Big Three in the process.

I think these are the top two options that Oklahoma’s management is strongly considering. I’m thinking they’re leaning towards the first but are inclined to investigate the second and are truly willing to go down that route if a good enough option is available to them.

Personally, I think the second option is their best move and will disappointed if they pass on it.

Free Agency

Two types of free agents — the sign and trade + the straight signing

Sign and Trade

  • Chris Bosh is the obvious target with Jeff Green and parts being used to entice the Raptors into agreeing to deal.

Straight Signing

The Thunder are unlikely to have enough money to make a play for Amare Stoudemire or Joe Johnson. They are also unlikely to want Rudy Gay given the presence of Kevin Durant.

That leaves us with three main free agents

  • David Lee — the Thunder didn’t make a play for him last season so it’s doubtful that they view him as an answer to their team … unless they decide to part ways with Jeff Green which is very much a possibility.
  • Carlos Boozer — too old, too injury prone, a little disruptive. Unlikely to be of interest.
  • Brendan Haywood — already 31 years old, probably doesn’t fit into their picture
  • Tyson Chandler — failed a physical there and had a trade vetoed. Again, unlikely to be pursued.


Neither of those opportunities look very promising. I think Oklahoma’s offseason direction will be decided by their trade plans which will mainly revolve around Jeff Green + coupling parts to acquire a superior young talent + using their cap space and young talent to pry away other players in trades.

In other words, expect to see Oklahoma use their cap flexibility in the trade market rather than free agency.

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