NBA Roundtable

2010 Cap Space: Oklahoma

In Draft, Free Agency, General NBA, Trade Talk on June 30, 2010 at 3:32 am

This is Second update following the draft day trades
Initial Post – Early season analysis
First Update – Adjustment for higher cap expectations

Oklahoma City Thunder Salaries

Contracts Above $5 million

  • Nick Collison – $6.75 million
  • Morris Peterson – $6.2 million
  • Kevin Durant – $6.05 million
  • Nenad Krstic – $5.54 million

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

They combine to make $24.54 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
  • Daequan Cook – $2.17 million
  • Eric Maynor – $1.42 million
  • BJ Mullens – $1.2 million
  • Serge Ibaka – $1.2 million
  • DJ White – $1.11 million

Seven of the nine players are on their rookie scale contracts . The other two are Thabo Sefolosha who will just be beginning a new contract extension + Daequan Cook who is an expiring contract.

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 $22.88 million and take the Thunder’s total up to $39.05 million.

Other Costs

  • Draft Picks — There is a cap hold of $1.77 million for the draft selection of Cole Aldrich. No cap hold for their second round picks.
  • 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 $1.77 million.

That gives us a new total of $49.19 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 $6.91 million in cap space next summer.

Summer Options

Free Agency

Two options

  • Choose to use the MLE (~$5.5 million) and the LLE (~$2 million), or,
  • Spend the $6.9 million in cap space
  • Sign and trade — more detail further below

It depends on what Oklahoma wants to do. They have slightly more money with the MLE and LLE but they are able to spend more money on an individual player by using their cap space.

Note: Oklahoma is free to choose either option. The MLE + LLE or the cap space.

The options between the MLE and using the $6.9 million are fairly similar. Two notable additions to the free agency pool in Brendan Haywood and Luis Scola but neither is a likely target given their ages and the addition of Cole Aldrich. Otherwise, the $6.9 million could be used to separate themselves from other MLE offers to ensure their top choice signing on.

Oklahoma’s Rotation

  • Guards – Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor
  • Wings – Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden, Jeff Green, Daequan Cook, Morris Peterson
  • Big Men – Cole Aldrich, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, BJ Mullens, DJ White

The Thunder have only one roster spot open, however, Oklahoma may consider waiving any one of DJ White, Morris Peterson and/or Daequan Cook in order to free up another roster spot or two or three.

Oklahoma will likely sign a third string point guard to finish out their depth chart.

Sign and Trade

Oklahoma has several assets to base a sign and trade off of

  • Expiring contracts of Mo Peterson, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic and Daeuqan Cook
  • The proven ability and potential of Jeff Green
  • Several other young prospects at various positions throughout their roster

Those assets would allow Oklahoma to make a very attractive sign and trade package with another team.

Their main target would likely be Chris Bosh but given the attractiveness of several other offers that seems quite unlikely. Oklahoma’s second best option is replacing forward Jeff Green with a more prototypical power forward like David Lee but given their lack of interest in Lee last season I also believe this to be an unlikely option.

Outside of those two, there aren’t a lot of big name players who figure to be of interest to the Thunder. They don’t have a chance at LeBron or Wade. Boozer is too old, too injury prone and possibly too expensive. Amare is too expensive. Rudy Gay plays the same position as Durant.

I do not expect Oklahoma to make a sign and trade. They’ll make some cursory calls about Chris Bosh but I doubt anything comes of it.

Free Agency Summary

Given

  • The depth Oklahoma has across their team
  • The need for cap flexibility to pay contract extensions to their young stars as they come off their rookie scale contracts
  • The need to give playing time to their young players
  • The unlikely option of a sign and trade

I find it to be very unlikely that Oklahoma adds a major free agent this summer. Not in a sign and trade, not with their possible cap space or with their MLE.

In conclusion, I would expect Oklahoma to sit out on the main free agency targets and only look for low priced players to fill out their roster.

Trading Possibilities

Okay, let’s repeat the assets we highlighted from the sign and trade section

  • The proven ability and potential of Jeff Green
  • Expiring contracts of Mo Peterson, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic and Daeuqan Cook
  • Several other young prospects at various positions throughout their roster

In any potential trade, Jeff Green is going to be the headliner. The added incentives can either be other young assets (at any position) and/or cap flexibility depending on the quality of what is coming back to Oklahoma.

I expect Oklahoma to investigate these options thoroughly before deciding on whether to switch to a Big Three (Durant, Westbrook, new star) or whether to re-sign Jeff Green this summer and settle on their core for the long term.

The trade market doesn’t look particularly promising post Free Agency 2010 so I would expect Oklahoma to stick with their current crew. Quite likely (most likely?) due to their lack of alternative options rather than it being the first choice.

Summary

“What you see is what you go”

Oklahoma will run with the guys on their roster. They are unlikely to make any further major summer additions post-Draft.

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