Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are in a unique position with a unique superstar and this upcoming summer will play a major role in how that ultimately plays out. Unsurprisingly, the team’s short-term fate depends on where Paul George signs and that could very well depend on where LeBron James signs.

With a committed George, the Thunder boast one of the league’s most intriguing cores and a front office with a rich history of landing major assets. Without him, it’s not so much of a stretch to picture the club back in the lottery for the first time since 2015.

Carmelo Anthony, PF, 34 (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $124MM deal in 2014
In less than a year, Anthony went from being a coveted veteran star to a radioactive presence with an albatross contract. The 33-year-old has an early termination option for 2018/19 but isn’t about to wave goodbye to the $28MM season he’s been eyeing up since he signed for it back in 2014. Anthony will be back in Oklahoma City next season and has already said that he has no desire to come off the bench. Godspeed, Thunder fans.

Corey Brewer, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Thunder added Brewer down the stretch as a replacement for the injured Andre Roberson. The perimeter defender not only subbed in admirably for Roberson, but carved out a role in the team’s rotation heading forward should he decide to return. Brewer is coming off of a comfortable $24MM deal signed in 2015, so don’t expect him to chase the biggest offer he can find if it looks like the Thunder will be able to remain competitive. That said, the club will need to offer more than the peanuts it got him for at the tail end of 2017/18.

Nick Collison, PF, 37 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
For the past 15 years, Collison has been a part of the Thunder franchise and there’s always seemed to be a mutual respect between he and the organization. While his days as a key rotation piece are in the rearview mirror, there’s no denying that his presence in the locker room has had a positive impact on the team. The big man hasn’t made a public decision regarding retirement at this point but it may be more likely than not. If Collison does decide to play in 2018/19, expect it to be announced well into free agency after the team’s other dominoes have fallen.

Raymond Felton, PG, 34 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Few would argue that there will be a long list of teams fighting to sign Felton this summer but it’s hard to consider his lone season in Oklahoma City anything less than a success. Felton proved that he can be an effective, cheap bit player for the Thunder, as evidenced by the 6.9 points and 2.5 assists per game he posted in just 16.6 minutes of action. Had he not performed as well as he did, there’s no guarantee he’d even land another full-time gig.

Paul George, SF, 28 (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $92MM deal in 2014
While his first season in Oklahoma City could have gone better from a team perspective, George did little to obfuscate his case for a max contract. It seems inevitable that the star will head west to the Lakers but let’s take the guy at his word if he says he’s at least interested in the notion of returning to the Thunder. The franchise would be well equipped for the next half decade if they could lock George in with Westbrook and Steven Adams, but will that be enough to sway the California native? Wherever he goes, he figures to be earning the max allowable.

Jerami Grant, PF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $4MM deal in 2014
Grant was a solid and intriguing depth piece for the Thunder this season, but may be one of the players most impacted by the team’s tight finances. The former second-round pick will see interest from other teams this summer and while OKC could go over the cap to retain him, doing so would have serious luxury tax implications.

Josh Huestis, PF, 26 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2015
Despite world-class athleticism, Huestis hasn’t firmly established himself with the Thunder in three seasons. That being said, he saw consistent action for OKC in 2017/18 in limited minutes. Given that the team will have so much of its payroll tied up in a handful of players in 2018/19 and beyond, the unrestricted free agent could have some appeal as a dirt-cheap option already familiar with the system.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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10 thoughts on “Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Oklahoma City Thunder

    • x%sure

      Disagree. The sentence is overly complicated, formulated for a word like “clarify” instead. But based on the last sentence, that is opposite the intended meaning. Just replacing CLARIFY with OBFUSCATE is… obfuscating!
      It really stopped my skim-through.
      I read that thinking, wait, I thought George had a pretty good year… and had to study that line and word. It’s not wrong but…
      “George did not obfuscate his case for a max contract” would be clearer. Or just “George continued performing at a max-salary level”.

      Also, IMO, this is the second offseason Carmello has been “a radioactive presence with an albatross contract”, more than a coveted star. His NTC disguised a league-wide lack of interest– The interested Rockets just wanted to unload Anderson’s contract, and did not pursue an alternative to him.

      • Austin Kent

        I stand by it. Despite the fact that the Thunder weren’t all that scary as a “superteam” in 2017/18, George’s play did little to hurt his chances of earning a max deal.

      • Austin Kent

        Re: Melo, that’s a very interesting point about the NTC disguising a lack of interest.

        I wonder how things would have gone down if he ended up in Portland, as was temporarily floated.

        • I believe that’s what Portland lacked, a nice scoring Wing. I think it would have made a huge difference.

          • x%sure

            Portland would have been better balanced with Melo, not so guard-reliant, though they had a good season anyway. But playoff success is what they need. Melo would have had to stay strong & interested to the end, but I think he would have, probably more than with OKC.

  1. Z-A

    Will Cain had a whole segment today about possibly trading Westbrook. Others saying “is it even possible”. Totally possible, several teams can trade for him quite easily actually.

    Not much incentive for PG13 to stay. Either way he’ll be on a fringe playoff team if it’s just down to LA or OKC. Ironically, if Thad Young declines his option, Indy could be a landing spot. Other than that, Sixers or Bulls can afford him.

    Not much point in buying out Melo. He won’t give you a discount, still against the cap.

  2. bowserhound

    PG13 is not worth the max. I’d argue that this past season with him playing in the shadow of Westbrook has diminished his value. As a Lakers fan, I hope he stays in OKC.

  3. bennyg

    I’d be sitting Melo down and saying “You’re either coming off the bench or we can trade you to Houston (for Ryan Anderson), make the choice Melo”.
    Anderson would be a better suit for Russ and Adams. Can play as a catch and shoot, unlike Melo who needs to play iso to create his own shot, and it gives the Thunder a 3pt stretch 4. OR sending him to Cleveland for Love – that way Melo gets to be with one of his banana boat boys

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