The Thunder have increased their efforts to reduce team salary for the 2019/20 season, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). According to Fischer, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, and Andre Roberson are all “very available,” as is the No. 21 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.
After being on the hook for a league-high luxury tax bill in 2018/19 (reportedly $61.6MM), the Thunder project to be well over the tax line again next season. Currently, the team has committed approximately $144.5MM in guaranteed money to nine players for ’19/20, per Basketball Insiders. The tax threshold is projected to come in at about $132MM.
As I pointed out when I previewed the Thunder’s offseason, team ownership may not be on board with paying another big tax bill for a roster that has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for three consecutive years.
Attaching the No. 21 pick to the expiring contracts of Roberson ($10.7MM) and/or Patrick Patterson ($5.7MM) would be one way to shed salary. Moving a key rotation player like Adams ($25.8MM) or Schroder ($15.5MM) – both of whom have two years left on their deals – would represent a more drastic cost-cutting measure.
Head of basketball operations Sam Presti has some experience finding creative ways to trim team salary without sacrificing Oklahoma City’s on-court upside. Last summer, he moved Carmelo Anthony‘s $27MM expiring salary for Schroder, substantially reducing the Thunder’s projected tax bill while securing a veteran in Schroder who would play a more significant role than Anthony.
We’ll have to wait to see whether Presti has a mandate to reduce team salary again this summer, and if he can figure out another creative way to do so.