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Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 7/29/15

The Thunder will almost certainly be better than they were last season, provided Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka miss fewer than the 88 combined games they sat out because of injury in 2014/15. They’ll have Enes Kanter for a full season after matching a max offer sheet from the Blazers this month, and their supporting cast looks strong, with Steven Adams, Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow, D.J. Augustin, Nick Collison and the newly re-signed Kyle Singler, among others vying for minutes.

Still, the top of the Western Conference appears even more monstrous than usual this season. The Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets and Grizzlies all seem to have decent chances to win the title. Thus, our question(s) of the day: Do you think the Thunder are the favorites? If not, what do they need to do to change that?

Oklahoma City is more than $10MM over the $84.74MM tax threshold but only has 14 guaranteed contracts, and the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception is still available. That doesn’t provide much flexibility, but it’s more recourse than many teams have, and the right role player can swing a postseason series. The Thunder can’t take in a player via sign-and-trade, but they’re otherwise free to explore the trade market. Of course, their roster isn’t exactly ridden with holes.

So, tell us what you think about Oklahoma City’s chances this year. To comment, simply enter your name and email address, write what you want to say, and submit it; there’s no need to become a registered user. Just make sure you comply with our commenting policy.

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8 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 7/29/15

  1. Dana Gauruder

    I’ve got to believe the signing of Aldridge makes the Spurs the favorites. The Thunder can match their talent but I can’t see everything going smoothly for them after all the injuries they’ve had, plus they must adapt to a new coach.

    • Chuck Myron

      Anything you think OKC can or should try to do about it? Even as reports indicate that the Thunder will probably re-sign Durant, you can’t take anything for granted. But you also don’t want to mortgage the future to put all your chips on one year if you think Durant might stay. Tough position.

      • Jacob Jackson

        There’s no talent left on the FA market that would justify the use of the $3.3M mini mid level. I think that 15th roster slot is going to Josh Huestis, who will probably be a non-contributor.

        I think the Thunder quietly had a terrible off-season. Kanter is the worst free agent deal of the offseason – one of the worst defenders in the league, paid an average of $17.5M per season for the next four years.

        Waiters is terrible at both ends, Roberson can’t play offense, and Morrow and Singler aren’t athletic enough to play defense. The top four teams in the West all have versatile 2-4’s who can guard multiple positions. Meanwhile, the Thunder have lost Sefalosha, Lamb, PJ3…and don’t have anyone behind Durant and Ibaka with that kind of with two-way potential. That’s critical in the West if you hope to stay with the top 4 teams.

        I predict a first-round exit, followed by Durant signing for the max with Houston. Dwight Howard will opt out, creating the necessary cap space…and when Durant expresses interest, the Rockets will obviously renounce Howard’s cap hold and sign Durant. Then they’ll take advantage of the low cap holds for Motie and TJones and re-sign them last, after Durant commits.

        • NBACousinVinnie

          You MUST be a Rockets fan, lol.

        • Chuck Myron

          Actually, I don’t think the Rockets scenario is all that far-fetched. I don’t think it’s likely, but I don’t think it’s implausible, either. Houston has the draw of Harden, an old Durant teammate, in his prime. Dwight Howard would have a soft landing in Dallas, where there’s a need for a center and where agent Dan Fegan owes one to Mark Cuban after the DeAndre Jordan fiasco.

          I don’t think Enes Kanter’s contract is so toxic in context, because the Thunder wouldn’t really have had a mechanism to replace him this season if he’d have walked. They could have replaced him next season, of course, and they didn’t forfeit a ton to get him in the first place, so there’s certainly grounds to question matching his offer sheet. But it’s a signal that this year means everything for the Thunder, that they weren’t willing to wait to replace him in 2016. And so, if they’re not the favorites this year, you have to wonder what their recourse is.

  2. NBACousinVinnie

    Billy Donovan is this year’s Steve Kerr.

  3. Zach

    • The Spurs added Aldridge
    • The Rockets added Lawson
    • The Clippers added Pierce
    • OKC locked up Enes Kanter???

    It’s hard to call OKC the favorites when the established Western powers seem to have added important pieces or maintained status quo. As usual, the success of OKC’s season rests in the health of their big 3.

    Long term however, going all-in on Enes Kanter might be their undoing. This will mark the second year OKC will be over the luxury bringing them one step closer to every small market’s worst nightmare, the dreaded “repeater tax”. What’s even more puzzling is that Billy Donovan disciples Joakim Noah and Al Hordford are free agents next year… It seems like OKC feels it needs to win this year to keep KD.

    Washigton meanwhile has John Wall locked-up on a mega bargain until 2019… Particularly after the looming cap raise.

    OKC better hope they’re good enough to win the western conference this year.

    • Jacob Jackson

      Agreed. Even healthy, I think OKC is in the second tier.

      First tier: warriors, rockets, spurs, clippers

      2nd tier: (first-round playoff exits): Thunder, Grizzlies, Jazz, New Orleans

      3rd tier (misses playoffs, but competitive): Mavs, Suns, Wolves, Denver

      4th tier: Portland, Lakers, Sacramento

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