Community Shootaround: Thunder’s Big Three

Thunder GM Sam Presti wrapped up an incredible offseason this week when Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205MM extension that ensures the reigning MVP will remain in Oklahoma City at least through the 2021-22 season.

Presti also added two of the best available players on the trade market in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to bolster a team that won 47 games last season. OKC’s new Big Three figures to be one of the top scoring trios in the league, and many observers believe the Thunder are the top challenger to the Warriors in the West.

But now that Oklahoma City has its three stars, how long will they stay together? Westbrook will make more than $35.3MM next season when the extension kicks in, George is expected to opt out of a deal worth $20.7MM and become a free agent next summer, while Anthony has an early termination option on a nearly $28MM salary. ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimated that keeping all three would give the Thunder the first $300MM payroll, with $157MM going to salaries and $143MM in taxes.

George seemed like a lock to opt out and sign with the Lakers, but he said Westbrook’s extension may give him a reason to stay in OKC. Anthony, who will turn 34 in May, is unlikely to find a better deal in free agency, although he could be planning to join his “Banana Boat” friends in Cleveland, Los Angeles or somewhere else.

That brings us to tonight’s question: Will George and Anthony both be with Westbrook in Oklahoma City when training camp opens next year? Please share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to your responses.

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10 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Thunder’s Big Three

  1. Philly Fan

    George is headed to the Lakers. After seeing how the Lakers play under Walton and with Lonzo and suffering through Russell’s bad iq plays, he’s gone. Melo will stay to keep getting them checks

  2. Levi813

    I’m an OKC fan and I don’t think so. Unless the Thunder got Melo to take a mid level exception and either trade Steven Adams or Andre Roberson to make room for Paul George’s max or close to max deal.

  3. H.Henderson

    There’s only two ways that they both stay. First, simply put, if they both opt in. Second, if Melo plays for the vet minimum and George takes a one and one deal for roughly 18 million. I personally don’t see Melo turning down his 28 mil. As for George, he could leave and get more than that 20 million elsewhere. So all in all, unless the Thunder take the finals or at the very least make the conference finals I don’t see George staying.

  4. x%sure

    Two players who would look good on a team with Russell, Adams and Melo– Olidipo and Sabonis. Yet without LA-bound George, Melo would not have shortlisted OKC and made George expendable!
    I mean, $300mil roster… something has to give way.

    • rxbrgr

      I hope you’re kidding that an overpaid Oladipo plus Sabonis are better than having George…

      • x%sure

        Thinking of a year from now. The ‘big 3’ then of a 1,3, and 5 will need a 4 and a 2… assuming George goes where he’s been wanting to, and the boss can’t afford him anyway.

  5. rxbrgr

    Question for Luke or HR team: Couldn’t Westbrook’s extension kicked in after his player option year, like the extensions for Wall and Harden did. That could have saved them 6m or so (plus ~20m in taxes) next year and made it more palatable to keep George on a new max along with Melo’s expiring.

    • Luke Adams

      Wall’s and Harden’s DVEs actually didn’t work any differently than Westbrook’s — Wall had no player option (he would’ve been a UFA in 2019) and Harden had a 2019/20 player option which was replaced by his DVE.

      At a glance, I don’t see any CBA wording that would prevent exercising a player option as part of a DVE agreement and starting the extension after it. But even if you could do that, that would essentially mean asking Westbrook to take a discount for next year (when he’d be eligible for the 35% max with or without the DVE), so I’m not sure whether the Thunder wanted to have that conversation.

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