Darius Bazley

Pacific Notes: Davis, Vezenkov, Lamb, Bazley

Terence Davis, an unrestricted free agent after the season, has seen his playing time plunge this month. He got a chance to play big minutes on Saturday due to injuries and delivered a 21-point, seven-rebound game for the Kings, Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee writes. Davis acknowledged that he needed an outing like that.

“I haven’t been playing well,” the Kings guard said. “So that’s just point-blank, period. I haven’t been playing well. I haven’t been locked in, honestly. I’m just trying to get that rhythm back. The opportunity opened back up for me and I was able to take advantage of it.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings GM Monte McNair and VP of player personnel Phil Jabour traveled to Greece to watch draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Vezenkov play, columnist Shot Vetakis tweets. The Olympiacos Piraeus forward is considered the favorite for the EuroLeague MVP award, according to Javier Gancedo of EuroLeagueBasketball.net. Kings players have endorsed bringing in Vezenkov, who is averaging 18.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28 EuroLeague contests this season.
  • Anthony Lamb‘s new contract with the Warriors only covers the rest of the season, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. That will make Lamb a restricted free agent after the season. The swingman was promoted from a two-way deal to a standard contract on Friday.
  • Forward Darius Bazley said that getting traded from the Thunder to the Suns jolted him, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “It was kind of tough,” Bazley said. “When it first happened, it was one of those moments when you’re like, ‘Dang.’ That’s all I knew. A lot of those guys, I’ve been with them since I first came here.  In the NBA, your teammates and staff, you spend more time with them than you do your own families.” A restricted free agent this summer if extended a qualifying offer, Bazley has only made two cameos with the Suns.

Trade Breakdown: Dario Saric To The Thunder

This is the sixth entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a deal between the Suns and Thunder

On February 9, the Thunder traded forward/center Darius Bazley to the Suns in exchange for forward/center Dario Saric, Phoenix’s 2029 second-round pick and $1MM in cash.

The Thunder’s perspective:

On the surface, this seems like a pretty minor trade that got lost in the shuffle a bit due to all the blockbusters leading up to the deadline. That said, I thought it was interesting for a number of different reasons.

As our Luke Adams explains in our glossary entry on traded player exceptions, even though this seems like a straightforward one-for-one swap, this was actually a non-simultaneous deal for both the Thunder and the Suns, making it mutually beneficial.

A non-simultaneous deal means a team can trade away a single player without immediately taking salary back in return, allowing it to create an outstanding trade exception.

This deal showed the value of having a large ($10,183,800) outstanding traded player exception, which permitted the Thunder to take on Saric’s $9,240,000 contract for “nothing.” That also allowed them to generate a new TPE, worth $4,264,629, which is what Bazley is making this season.

The Suns created their own TPE because they only traded one player and took back less salary than they sent out. It’s worth $4,975,371, which is the difference between Saric’s salary and Bazley’s. Both teams will have until next February to use their new TPEs.

There are plenty of examples of large TPEs not being used at all. Often that has to do with the team’s proximity to the luxury tax and its willingness (or lack thereof) to pay a huge chunk of cash for what could amount to a rental player (many players involved in deadline deals are on expiring or pseudo-expiring contracts — both Saric and Bazley could hit free agency this summer, for example).

The Thunder were in the sweet spot of being over the cap but far enough below the luxury tax line that they could use their large TPE to create an additional asset of sorts to possibly create future value. It also netted them a second-round pick and a little cash, since the Suns were motivated to move off Saric’s contract.

Cap aspects aside, when it was first announced, my first thought was to wonder if Saric might reach a buyout agreement or get waived, even though the Thunder were (and still are) in the play-in race. A handful of days after the deadline, it definitely sounded like he wasn’t going to pursue a buyout, praising the organization and saying he was “open-minded” about his potential role.

However, a report late last month indicated that he nearly was waived as Oklahoma City sought flexibility with its last roster spot, instead choosing to release Eugene Omoruyi.

My second thought was, wait, did the Thunder just make an on-court upgrade and get draft capital back? That very rarely happens.

That’s not to say the Thunder made a win-now move, far from it. The primary objective was landing the second-round pick and creating a new TPE. Saric is on an expiring contract and I’m sure the Thunder’s front office wouldn’t mind if they missed the postseason, though they haven’t shown any signs of blatantly tanking to this point.

He may not be a household name, but Saric is an accomplished player, providing solid value with all three of his previous clubs (he started with Philadelphia and was traded to Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler deal back in ‘18/19). He holds career averages of 11.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.9 APG on .443/.360/.838 shooting in 402 games (217 starts, 24.0 MPG).

Saric missed all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals. He had a second surgery last May to repair a torn meniscus, making it an open question what his form would look like upon his return from two major knee surgeries.

He (understandably) had a very slow start to 2022/23, only appearing in 22 of Phoenix’s first 41 games with averages of 3.8 PPG and 2.8 RPG on .358/.351/.857 shooting in 11.6 MPG. That’s why I said his free agent stock was trending down when I wrote about him in January.

However, he was a rotation fixture in the 15 games (seven starts, 18.5 MPG) leading up to the deadline, averaging 8.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.3 APG on .485/.438/.800 shooting. Saric’s solid play has continued post-trade, as he’s averaging 10.1 PPG and 3.7 RPG on a scorching hot .627/.458/.889 shooting line through nine games with the Thunder (14.9 MPG).

The 28-year-old has an excellent feel for the game, using his high basketball IQ to overcome his relative lack of athleticism. He is a below-the-rim finisher, but has good touch and lots of tricks around the basket – he’s shooting 67.1% at the rim this season, which ranks in the 71st percentile, per DunksAndThrees.com.

The Thunder run a five-out offense where every player on the court is capable of dribbling, passing, screening and shooting. All of those are strengths of Saric’s.

He isn’t a great defensive player at either frontcourt position, and he’s undersized against some centers (he’s listed at 6’10” and 225 pounds). That said, he’s generally in the right spots, he just lacks the foot speed to stick on the perimeter and the length to protect the paint.

Oklahoma City has had a ton of draft picks over the past few years, and still has loads more in the future. Bazley was one that didn’t work out.

The No. 23 overall pick of the 2019 draft, Bazley entered the NBA as an excellent athlete with raw skills. He turned into a solid defensive player, but struggled mightily offensively.

I gained a newfound respect for Bazley as a person after I saw a video of him talking about his diminished playing time this season (he only appeared in 36 of 54 games for an average of 15.4 MPG). His team-first attitude and self-awareness were admirable.

While Bazley is certainly young and talented enough that he could develop elsewhere, he was viewed as unlikely to be in the Thunder’s long-term plans even if they had kept him through the deadline. The harsh reality is trades are part of the business.

The Suns’ perspective:

Phoenix’s primary, secondary and tertiary reasons for making this deal were financial. As Luke Adams details in our glossary entry, the NBA’s luxury tax is set up so that the penalties become increasingly punitive the further teams go beyond the tax line.

Trading Saric for Bazley saved the Suns approximately $20MM toward their estimated luxury tax payment. According to Eric Pincus of Sports Business Classroom, the Suns are currently $22,249,841 over the tax with an estimated luxury tax bill of $53,436,904. And that’s after this trade was made.

Saric started to pick up steam prior to the deadline, was a key contributor to the team’s culture, and played a role in its run to the Finals a couple years ago. Would he have provided $20MM worth of value for the remainder of this season? In the most optimistic scenarios, maybe? But probably not.

Trading for Kevin Durant means there won’t be many minutes at power forward in the playoffs. Ditto at center behind Deandre Ayton. The Suns still have several options to explore backing up those frontcourt spots, including Torrey Craig, T.J. Warren, Ish Wainright, Jock Landale, Bismack Biyombo and Bazley.

Maybe the Suns like Bazley as a defender and believe he has untapped upside on offense. He’s still just 22 years old. But he had also only appeared in one of a possible seven games (for seven minutes) entering Wednesday’s matchup with his former team.

In all likelihood, Bazley’s role will be minor going forward. As a championship hopeful, the Suns can’t really afford to play him when it counts, because opposing teams dare him to shoot and he’s only converting 50% at the rim, which is in the sixth percentile of all players, per DunksAndThrees.

Given Phoenix’s cap situation going forward, plus its window of contention and where Bazley is at in his development, the odds of him receiving a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent seem slim. If that scenario plays out, he would instead become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

The $4,975,371 TPE the Suns created as part of the deal could be used to acquire a player who makes more than the minimum at some point in the future. Losing one second-round pick several years down the line isn’t a big deal, as a few are typically up for sale in every draft.

How far the Suns go in the postseason will ultimately be determined by their star players’ health. Obviously, Durant suffering an ankle sprain just three games after returning from a knee injury isn’t ideal, but they’ve still been on a roll lately, winning 16 of their past 21 games.

The Suns are betting they have enough depth behind Durant and Ayton that losing Saric won’t come back to bite them – a reasonable position, particularly considering how much money they saved by moving him.

Thunder Notes: Saric, Deadline Deals, Omoruyi, Sarr

Although he’s still just 28 years old, Dario Saric suddenly finds himself in the position of being his team’s oldest player following a trade from Phoenix to Oklahoma City last Thursday. Saric, who referred to the Thunder as a “high-level organization,” doesn’t sound like someone who will pursue a buyout from his new club, suggesting on Monday that he’s looking forward to taking on the role of veteran mentor in OKC.

“You’re always surprised,” Saric said of the trade, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “That’s kind of how things go. At the end of the day, happy to be here. Happy to be part of this organization, a part of this group of young, talented guys who have a lot of years in front of them to play basketball.”

Asked about the role he anticipates playing with the Thunder, Saric said he doesn’t have any real expectations and is happy to play things by ear.

“I think I will go with the flow,” he said. “We’re gonna figure out everything, how the games go. I’m here open-minded, and coach (Mark Daigneault) says he’s open-minded.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking forward to seeing what Saric brings to the Thunder, but admitted it was tough to say goodbye to Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala at the trade deadline. Gilgeous-Alexander referred to the club’s locker room as “close-knit” and added that Bazley is “like a brother” to him. Daigneault, meanwhile, said he hopes Bazley and Muscala thrive with their new teams, Mussatto writes for The Oklahoman. “We want those guys to move on and continue to have success and contribute to the teams that they’re on,” the head coach said. “I think that would be a good reflection on the program.”
  • Eugene Omoruyi‘s new contract with the Thunder is a two-year, minimum-salary deal that isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Oklahoma City will hold a non-guaranteed $1,927,896 team option on Omoruyi for the 2023/24 season following his promotion from a two-way contract last week.
  • As for Olivier Sarr‘s two-way deal, it only covers the rest of this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Players who sign two-way contracts during the second half often agree to add a second year, but that’s not the case for Sarr, who will be eligible this summer for restricted free agency.

Suns Notes: Durant, Warren, Payne, Shamet, Crowder, Wainright, Ayton

The Suns have confirmed that Kevin Durant, who is still recovering from an MCL sprain, won’t play until after the All-Star break, but the star forward “looked great” in his first practice with the team on Monday, teammate T.J. Warren said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Durant, who wasn’t wearing a brace on his injured knee, played some 1-on-1 with assistant coach Jarrett Jack, Rankin writes.

Warren, who was sent from Brooklyn to Phoenix along with Durant, said it was a “surreal feeling” to return to the place where he spent the first five years of his career and to have a chance to play alongside superstars and contend for a title (Twitter video link via PHNX Sports).

During Warren’s first five seasons in Phoenix from 2014-19, the club posted a dismal 126-284 (.307) record. This time around, the Suns are the betting favorites to make it out of the West and play in the NBA Finals.

Warren and fellow Suns newcomer Darius Bazley aren’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s game vs. Sacramento, so they should be available to make their debuts for the team, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Suns guards Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet, who are both dealing with foot injuries, will remain sidelined through the All-Star break and will be reevaluated next week, tweets Rankin. Payne hasn’t played since January 4 due to a right foot sprain, while Shamet has been out since Jan. 16 as a result of right foot soreness.
  • Now a member of the Bucks, Jae Crowder declined to take any parting shots at the Suns when asked about the situation that led to him sitting out the first several months of the season. “Obviously I’ve been working with these guys for a trade partner for months now. I think, give or take, they did exactly what they said they were gonna do. Took longer than what we all expected, but it got done,” Crowder said (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “… I’m thankful for the organization embracing me the past two years — we had a great run and we did some great things in Phoenix and we turned their culture around. So I’m happy for those guys. I wish them luck moving forward.”
  • Suns two-way player Ish Wainright can only be active for two more games before he reaches his limit for the season, tweets Bourguet. Given that Phoenix plays twice before the All-Star break and then is off for eight days, the club will likely have Wainright active for both of this week’s contests and then use the time off to decide whether to promote him to a standard contract, Bourguet observes. The Suns currently have two openings on their 15-man roster, though Terrence Ross is expected to fill one of them.
  • Deandre Ayton remained with the Suns through the trade deadline, then faced the Pacers on Friday, seven months after signing an offer sheet with Indiana that Phoenix quickly matched. Despite some speculation during the last year about whether Ayton really wanted to be with the Suns, he said he wasn’t thinking last week about what could have been, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. “I enjoyed playing against (Indiana) and being out there, but I’m happy with my Suns, though,” Ayton said. “Forget that. That’s behind me. I’m happy I’m with my Suns.”

Suns Trade Saric, Second-Rounder To Thunder For Bazley

7:53pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release from the Thunder. Phoenix sent its own 2029 second-round pick and cash to Oklahoma City in the deal.

1:00pm: The Suns are trading forward/center Dario Saric and a second-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for forward/center Darius Bazley, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

As John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets, the deal was possible because of a large traded player exception the Thunder created when they dealt Derrick Favors to Houston before the 2022/23 season started (Favors was subsequently waived).

Both players are impending free agents — Saric will be unrestricted and makes $9.24MM in the final year of his contract, while Bazley is earning $4.26MM and will be a restricted free agent if Phoenix gives him a qualifying offer.

Considering the Suns went all-in in their blockbuster trade to acquire superstar forward Kevin Durant, I’m a little surprised that they’re moving a second-round pick — and perhaps the better player — to save money in this deal. Saric missed all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL and he had a very slow start to ’22/23, but he has played his best basketball as of late, averaging 8.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.3 APG on .485/.438/.800 shooting over the past 15 games (seven starts, 18.5 MPG).

It’s definitely not certain that Saric is a better player than Bazley right now. Both players have been in-and-out of their teams’ rotations, but Bazley (22) is six years younger than Saric (28) and is a superior athlete and defender, while the Crotian veteran has been a better all-around offensive player to this point in their careers.

Perhaps the Suns didn’t want to bring back Saric in free agency, or they were worried about his fit with the new roster. Either way, they will save a significant amount of money toward the luxury tax and get a look at a versatile defensive player who might have some untapped upside in Bazley — his next contract should be relatively affordable, if they choose to re-sign him.

For the Thunder, they add a veteran in the frontcourt after agreeing to trade Mike Muscala to Boston, and add another second-round pick to their ever-growing draft cache. Stylistically, Saric fits well with what the Thunder like to do offensively, as he’s a good screener, passer and play-maker, while Bazley is more limited in that regard.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Giddey, Bazley, Micic

The backcourt pairing of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey has looked much smoother in its second season together, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The Thunder‘s young guards were still working out ball-handling responsibilities when Giddey suffered a season-ending hip injury last February. They’ve learned how to complement each other this year and are a major part of why OKC is in the playoff race at 23-24.

“When you’ve got two guys that really want to get it right, it’s less about their games, it’s less about their fit,” coach Mark Daigneault said. “It’s more about, do the players want to work to get right? And in this particular case we have an entire team, it’s not just limited to Josh and Shai, (of) guys that want to get it right. I think that’s what you’re seeing over time.” 

Giddey is averaging 16.0 PPG in his second NBA season and has become more dependable as an outside shooter, raising his three-point percentage from 26.3% to 32.8%. He’s also taking advantage of the opportunities created while defenses focus on Gilgeous-Alexander, who ranks fifth in the league in scoring.

Shai could have 40 points every night if he wanted to,” Giddey said, “but he’s unselfish, he gets off the ball, he makes players around him better.” 

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • Although the Thunder look like legitimate playoff contenders, any moves that general manager Sam Presti makes before the trade deadline will be focused on the future rather than securing a postseason spot, Mussatto states in a mailbag column. Mussatto sees Darius Bazley as the most likely candidate for a trade because of his limited offensive game, and he speculates that the team won’t re-sign Bazley in free agency this summer even if he’s not dealt away.
  • Fans shouldn’t count on seeing Serbian guard Vasilije Micic in a Thunder uniform next season, Mussatto adds in the same piece. Although the 29-year-old continues to excel in Europe, it’s not clear if there’s a role for him in Oklahoma City. Micic wants a chance at regular playing time if he comes to the NBA, and Mussatto suggests that he might be more valuable to OKC as a trade chip.
  • The Thunder have a strong case to finish as one of the top six teams in the West, contends Ethan Fuller of Basketball News. Oklahoma City is 8-3 in January and just one game out of sixth place. The Thunder and Nuggets are the only teams that rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive ratings for the month.

Warriors Rumors: Wiseman, Moody, Kuminga, J. Green, Lamb, More

The Warriors‘ approach to this season’s trade deadline might resemble the path they took two years ago, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Back in 2021, Kelly Oubre was considered a potential trade chip as Golden State hovered around .500, but the team hung onto Oubre and only made two small salary-dump deals involving Marquese Chriss and Brad Wanamaker.

According to Slater, this season’s Warriors are a better bet to make moves on the fringe like those ones than to do anything drastic. That’s why former lottery picks James Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga are likely to remain in Golden State through the deadline instead of being moved, Slater adds. Those youngsters could be traded in the right deal, but the Warriors won’t want to sell low on Wiseman and Moody, and they view Kuminga as a legitimate playoff rotation piece.

If the Warriors make a small move to dump a contract and open up another roster spot, JaMychal Green would be the most obvious trade candidate, Slater observes.

The team already has one spot open on its 15-man roster, but the expectation is that two-way player Anthony Lamb will eventually be promoted to fill that spot. Opening up a second roster slot would position the Warriors to be players on the buyout market. Unlike last year, they could have both a roster and rotation spot to offer veteran free agents this time around, Slater writes.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Theoretically, big men like Jakob Poeltl or Kelly Olynyk would appeal to the Warriors, but the price will likely be too high for a Golden State team that already has Draymond Green and Kevon Looney in its frontcourt and only really needs an insurance policy, Slater writes. Sources tell The Athletic that the Dubs would be more interested in a “versatile multi-positional wing” to play a role similar to the one Otto Porter Jr. did last season.
  • Slater names Jalen McDaniels, Darius Bazley, Rui Hachimura, and Obi Toppin as some possible targets the Warriors could kick the tires on, but acknowledges that rival suitors would probably be in position to outbid Golden State on those sorts of players.
  • While Stephen Curry has been cleared to play in both parts of back-to-back sets going forward, Klay Thompson is still awaiting that same clearance, says Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Thompson sat out on Monday after scoring a team-high 26 points on Sunday, but the expectation is that he’ll be able to play in back-to-backs at some point this season. Assuming he misses either Friday’s game after playing tonight, Thompson’s next opportunity to play in both ends of a back-to-back would be on February 1 and 2.
  • In a conversation with David Aldridge of The Athletic, Draymond Green says he believes he’ll eventually make the Basketball Hall of Fame. “You won’t go and look at my stats and say, ‘This guy’s a surefire Hall of Famer,'” Green said. “But if you know the game of basketball, and you look at the game of basketball, then I think I have a case.”

Northwest Notes: Bazley, Towns, Blazers, Grant, Jazz Arena

Darius Bazley has seen his playing time diminish this season but the Thunder forward is handling the situation professionally, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets in a video link. Bazley said, “It’s not about me and it never will be. I’m always invested in the team.”

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault has been impressed by Bazley’s attitude. “He deserves a lot of credit and it’s a powerful signal to the rest of the group, it’s a form of leadership. I admire how he’s handling this,” he said (Twitter link). Bazley is in the final year of his rookie contract with a current qualifying offer of $6.2MM if the team wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • In his midseason review of the Timberwolves, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes that the team hasn’t formed an identity, due to the extended injury absence of Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota has gone 10-11 without its biggest star, who is sidelined by a calf injury. “When he comes back we’re going to look different,” guard Anthony Edwards said. “Right now, we’re trying to figure it out still, so when we get him back, it might be a little easier.”
  • The Trail Blazers have been in a downward spiral in recent weeks but they’re not straying from their preseason goal, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I think we are in really good shape,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “We are figuring out what it is that we’ve got, and what we don’t have, which is what this thing is all about.”
  • In the same piece, Quick says that the Trail Blazers have establish a top priority — re-signing Jerami Grant, either to an extension or when he hits the free agent market.
  • The former Delta Center will become the Delta Center once again, according to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. The home of the Jazz was called the Delta Center until 2006, when it was renamed Vivint Arena. Utah has signed a long-term naming rights deal with Delta Air Lines to change the name again on July 1.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Conley, Russell, Thunder

Rudy Gobert got a warm reception in his return to Utah Friday night, but things turned hostile after he dropped in a late layup with the game already decided, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The Timberwolves held an eight-point lead with 12 seconds left to play as the Jazz decided to trap on defense. Minnesota passed the ball to Gobert, who scored with 2.4 seconds left.

After the final buzzer, Malik Beasley, who was sent to Utah in the Gobert trade, began yelling at Gobert and accused him of violating “one of the unwritten rules of basketball,” according to Walden. Jarred Vanderbilt, who was also in the deal, walked up to Gobert and shoved him.

Gobert was upset that the skirmish marred his night, which included a tribute video commemorating his nine seasons with the Jazz.

“I don’t know what it was. But I’ve been taught to play basketball until the last second,” Gobert told reporters. “For me, there was never any intent to disrespect anybody. So these guys that stepped in front of me — you’re not going to do anything anyway. I didn’t get to shake hands with my guys, so it kind of killed my moment a little bit. But it is what it is — some guys just want attention.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz guard Mike Conley can understand what Gobert was feeling heading into Friday’s game because he went through the same experience when he returned to Memphis, Walden adds. “You just gotta try your best to do your job, but at the same time enjoy this moment,” Conley said, “because you only get to do this situation one time, where you get to come back and play against your team that you did so much for.”
  • A hot-shooting night in Cleveland about a month ago helped Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell turn his season around, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Russell said that before that game, in which he made 11-of-13 shots from the field, he was taking “the wrong approach” to his duties with the team. “I was trying to be too focused on being a point guard instead of a basketball player,” he said. “… I kind of just play basketball freely and have fun. I pass the ball, so I’m labeled as a point guard. But just being a full, all-around basketball player, [I was] switching my approach to that.”
  • Asked about Darius Bazley possibly re-entering the rotation, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault responded with a general answer, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “We’re trying to help every guy understand their individual style of play that maximizes their strength and maximizes their ability to impact the team,” Daigneault said. “I would say that’s basically the template, the blueprint for every guy.”

Thunder Notes: Dort, Bazley, Giddey, Salary Cap, Draft

The Thunder are interested in reaching contract extension agreements with Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley but only if the price is right, GM Sam Presti told The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto and other media members on Monday.

“They’re both great guys,” Presti said. “I want to hear what they’re thinking, and I need them to understand we have to also balance the interest of the team as well.”

Presti indicated extension talks with Dort haven’t begun, Mussatto tweets.

“We’ll definitely have a conversation on that,” Presti said. “I don’t know when those conversations will pick up. We’ll have some different options. I don’t want to get into all of them.”

Here are some other highlights from Presti’s annual end-of-season press conference, via Mussatto:

  • Dort (shoulder), Bazley (knee) and Josh Giddey (hip), among others, didn’t finish the season due to injuries but Presti expects everyone on the roster to be ready for training camp.
  • The Thunder will play in two summer leagues, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Giddey and Aleksej Pokusevski will play in Salt Lake City.
  • The Thunder have only $54MM on the books for the 2023/24 season and will continue efforts to keep their salary sheet clean leading up to a new CBA in the summer of 2023.
  • If they’re not playing meaningful games as next season progresses, the Thunder plan to once again go into development mode as the season winds down. “We’re not just trying to figure out how to win two more games next year,” Presti said. “We could do that, but that solution doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best long-term solution for the team.”
  • There’s a slim chance the Thunder could hold onto all four picks it currently possesses in the draft. “One thing I don’t think has been explored enough in the NBA is just drafting everybody and then figuring it out,” Presti said.