Oklahoma City Thunder

25 Players Still On Non-Guaranteed 2017/18 Salaries

There are 25 players around the NBA playing on 2017/18 salaries that aren’t yet fully guaranteed. While having those salaries guaranteed will be a mere formality for some players, others may be at risk of losing their roster spot with decision day nearing. If teams keep non-guaranteed players under contract beyond January 7, their salaries will become guaranteed for the season on January 10, so clubs still have more than a month to decide whether to lock in these players’ full-season salaries.

Listed below is the team-by-team breakdown of the players who are still on non-guaranteed salaries or partially guaranteed salaries. Unless otherwise indicated, each of these players is set to earn the minimum. Partial guarantees are noted if they exceed a player’s prorated salary to date. Any teams not listed below are only carrying players with fully guaranteed salaries.

Atlanta HawksLuke Babbitt vertical

Brooklyn Nets

Charlotte Hornets

Chicago Bulls

Dallas Mavericks

Detroit Pistons

  • Eric Moreland: Partial guarantee of $1,000,000.
    • Full salary: $1,739,333

Houston Rockets

Indiana Pacers

Los Angeles Lakers

Milwaukee Bucks

Minnesota Timberwolves

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Orlando Magic

Philadelphia 76ersRichaun Holmes vertical

Phoenix Suns

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

Utah Jazz

Washington Wizards

  • Sheldon Mac
    • Note: Mac is recovering from a torn Achilles and will continue to be paid his full-season salary until he’s cleared to return.

To keep tabs on these 25 players over the next several weeks, be sure to check back on our regularly-updated lists of salary guarantee dates and of non-guaranteed contracts.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and USA Today Sports Images. Information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

Thunder Stars Patient Amid Slow Start

  • The Thunder’s star players are remaining calm despite their slow start, relays Sam Amick of USA Today. Oklahoma City was expected to be among the elite teams in the West after a pair of offseason trades united Paul George and Carmelo Anthony with Russell Westbrook, but OKC remains under .500. “I think they all understand that they can’t do it by themselves, and I think they all realize that from the situations they’re coming from, that now, ‘How do we figure out how to do it together?’” said coach Billy Donovan. “In order to compete at the highest level, you’ve got to have several really good players on your team. And there may be some truth to that, but I think people think that all of a sudden you take a collection of talent and just throw it together [and it works].”
  • The offseason moves have solidified the faith that Westbrook has in the organization, relays Royce Young of ESPN. Westbrook, who added stability to the Thunder by agreeing to extensions the past two summers, is a huge proponent of GM Sam Presti. “He’s done an amazing job. He’s done a great job ever since I’ve been here,” Westbrook said. “He’s finding ways to constantly keep making us a better team. … You definitely are very, very thankful to have somebody like that in charge of making those decisions.”

An Early Look At Five 2018/19 Player Options

Back in 2016, player option decisions were essentially mere formalities. With the NBA salary cap set to spike, nearly every veteran with a player option on his contract decided to opt out and explore the free agent market. Only three players – Tim Duncan, Mo Williams, and Caron Butler – exercised their player options that year, and none of those players have appeared in the NBA since then.

The market shifted a little in 2017, as five players picked up their player options, and several other players perhaps should have. Dante Cunningham, Rudy Gay, Aron Baynes, and Nick Young are among the players earning less this season than they would have if they’d exercised their options, and David Lee opted out of his deal only to announce his retirement a few months later.

The NBA’s salary cap continues to increase, but it’s no longer jumping at nearly the same rate it was in 2016, which means veterans holding player options for 2018 may be less inclined to explore the market — there simply aren’t as many teams willing to throw money around.

A look at the list of player options for 2018/19 reveals several options that will likely be picked up. For instance, Wesley Matthews ($18.6MM), Darrell Arthur ($7.5MM), Wesley Johnson ($6.1MM), Jason Smith ($5.5MM), and Ron Baker ($4.5MM) are unlikely to find offers on the open market that are more lucrative than their option salaries. Of course, there are also still plenty of options that will be quickly declined — the odds of Paul George exercising his $20.7MM player option are slim.

Somewhere in between those two extremes, there are several 2018/19 player option decisions that remain unclear. These players may be leaning one way or the other right now, but the decision isn’t so obvious that it should be considered a lock quite yet. Here are five of those player option decisions worth keeping an eye on this season:

  1. Carmelo Anthony verticalCarmelo Anthony, Thunder ($27,928,140): The Thunder’s new-look roster has been dubbed a one-year experiment, but even if things go south in Oklahoma City this season, there’s little reason not to expect two of the team’s “Big Three” players back next year. Russell Westbrook is on a long-term extension, and Anthony’s $27.9MM option is probably too lucrative to pass up, considering he’s 33 years old and is seeing his production decline. If the season goes really poorly for the Thunder, maybe Anthony opts out just to get a change of scenery, but at this point, I’d count on him opting in.
  2. Jeremy Lin, Nets ($12,516,746): After an injury-plagued 2016/17 season in which he appeared in just 36 contests, Lin had high hopes for the 2017/18 campaign. However, he didn’t even make it through a single game this year, rupturing his patellar tendon in the Nets’ opener. When Lin is healthy, he’s a dynamic point guard who could command a solid long-term deal. But he’ll be 30 next summer and will be coming off a major injury. It might make sense to just play it safe and opt in for one more year in Brooklyn.
  3. Wilson Chandler, Nuggets ($12,800,562): Chandler has been a Nugget since 2011, making him the team’s longest-tenured player, but it has been a bumpy ride at times. Although Chandler has averaged between 30.9 and 31.7 minutes per contest in every season since 2013/14, he hasn’t always been happy with his role over the years, with a report back in February suggesting he was hoping for a trade. Chandler has struggled this season, and his three-point efficiency has been on the decline, but if he can bounce back, he’d be an appealing free agent target for teams in need of a wing with some size or a small-ball power forward. He probably wouldn’t earn more than $12.8MM per year, but he should be able to exceed that figure in terms of total salary.
  4. Cory Joseph, Pacers ($7,945,000): Long regarded as one of the NBA’s top backup point guards, Joseph’s numbers in Toronto and now Indiana have been fairly modest. Still, it might make sense for him to pass up an $8MM salary in search of a larger payday and perhaps a chance to earn a slightly larger role. An improved outside shot figures to make Joseph more appealing to potential suitors — in his first five NBA seasons, he made just 29.4% of his three-point attempts, but he has increased that mark to 38.5% since the start of the 2016/17 season.
  5. Enes Kanter, Knicks ($18,622,514): Kanter’s option decision was considered so obvious that his probable opt-in was reported back in August, with his decision deadline still 10 months away. Has his strong play in New York changed that? Probably not. Despite averaging a double-double with 13.8 PPG and 10.6 RPG so far, Kanter remains an average defender at best, and big men who don’t either protect the rim or shoot three-pointers have limited upside in free agency. Although the future for Kanter looks brighter than it did a few months ago, it’s still hard to imagine him turning down an $18.6MM salary for next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kevin Durant Speaks Candidly About Franchise Relocation

  • Among several excellent aspects of an interview with Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Warriors forward Kevin Durant spoke candidly about the Thunder and their move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. An under reported asset that the Bay Area offered Durant in free agency is a similarity to the Pacific Northwest town in which he broke into the league. “To be part of a franchise moving, no player, especially a rookie, expects that,” Durant said. “I didn’t even think that was in the cards. Obviously, I wasn’t in on the deal, nobody asked me any questions. So as long as we got to play somewhere, it was cool with me. I was 19, I didn’t know the effect a team moving had on fans or a city. As I got older, I realized how huge a team leaving a city is, how devastating that must have been for the fans. Every time we’d go to the West Coast, we’d see Seattle jerseys and you’d start to realize that was a huge, huge part of people’s lives.

Patrick Patterson Still Working Way Back Into Routine

  • While he hasn’t gotten off to a great start with his new franchise, the Thunder are aware that offseason addition Patrick Patterson will be a valuable shooter for them eventually. Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes about the forward’s struggles getting back into routine following offseason knee surgery.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/15/17

Here are today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers sent center Ike Anigbogu to their Fort Wayne affiliate, the team announced on its website. A second-round pick in June, Anigbogu has seen limited playing time in Indiana, amassing 17 minutes in six games.
  • The Thunder recalled guard Terrance Ferguson, who was sent to Oklahoma City Blue on Tuesday. Ferguson turned in a 24-point performance for the G League team.
  • The Hawks assigned swingman Nicolas Brussino and center Miles Plumlee to their Erie affiliate. Brussino has appeared in four games for Atlanta, while Plumlee has yet to play because of a strained right quad.

2018 Salary Cap Outlook: Northwest Division

NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.

We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re tackling the Northwest division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Northwest teams:

Portland Trail BlazersJusuf Nurkic vertical
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $110,456,026
Projection: Over the cap

The Trail Blazers reduced their future commitments by trading Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn earlier this year, and Ed Davis will come off the books next summer, giving Portland a chance to avoid the luxury tax in 2018/19. However, their $110MM+ in guaranteed salaries for next season doesn’t include a contract for Jusuf Nurkic, who will be a restricted free agent. If they want to re-sign Nurkic and don’t dump another salary, the Blazers figure to return to tax territory.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $110,233,979
Projection: Over the cap

The Timberwolves’ salary commitments look a lot different now than they did a year ago. Gorgui Dieng‘s lucrative new extension went into effect this summer, and Andrew Wiggins‘ max deal will begin in 2018. Throw in substantial salaries for offseason acquisitions Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson, and Minnesota projects to be well over the cap for 2018/19. With a potential extension for Karl-Anthony Towns looming for 2019/20, the Wolves won’t have cap space for the foreseeable future if they intend to keep their current core group together.

Denver Nuggets
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $89,903,848
Projection: Over the cap

The Nuggets’ guaranteed salaries for 2018/19 currently sit around $90MM, but even based on a $101MM cap projection, we shouldn’t expect the team to have any room. There are too many factors working against it.

For one, Denver will face a tough decision on Nikola Jokic — exercising his ultra-affordable $1.6MM team option would put him on track to become an unrestricted free agency in 2019, so the club may opt to decline that option and make him a restricted free agent. In that scenario, a new contract for Jokic would push the Nuggets over the cap.

Even if they simply pick up Jokic’s cheap option, the Nuggets will also have to consider player options for Kenneth Faried ($12.8MM) and Darrell Arthur ($7.5MM). Arthur is a good bet to exercise his option, and even though Faried hasn’t always loved his role in Denver, it’s possible he’ll pick up his too, since it features a pretty player-friendly salary.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $88,907,222
Projection: Over the cap

Carmelo Anthony‘s early termination option for 2018/19, worth nearly $28MM, is a major X factor for the Thunder, whose guaranteed team salary would increase from approximately $89MM to nearly $117MM if Anthony opts in. Taking into account Carmelo’s age, his production trends, and the current state of the free agent market, it makes sense for him to play out the final year of his current deal, so we’re penciling in Oklahoma City as a probable over-the-cap team.

Even if Anthony opts out and Paul George doesn’t re-sign, OKC could only get up to about $8.8MM in cap room. That’s barely more than the projected value of the mid-level exception, so even in that scenario, the Thunder may simply remain over the cap to avoid renouncing all their exceptions.

Utah Jazz
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $67,839,543
Projection: Up to approximately $28MM in cap room

Only six Jazz players have fully guaranteed salaries for 2018/19, while seven others have non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries, or are restricted free agents. That gives Utah some flexibility if the team wants to maximize its cap room.

However, retaining Thabo Sefolosha for his reasonable non-guaranteed salary of $5.25MM would cut into the Jazz’s space, as would re-signing Rodney Hood and/or Dante Exum. Realistically, unless Utah decides to only hang onto those six fully guaranteed players and make major changes around them, we shouldn’t expect the club to enter July 2018 armed with a ton of cap room.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Terrance Ferguson Plays Well On G League Assignment

  • First-round pick Terrance Ferguson was assigned to the G League by the Thunder, the club announced in a press release. Ferguson took advantage of his opportunity to suit up for the Oklahoma City Blue on Tuesday night, scoring a team-high 24 points in a 122-118 win over the Texas Legends.

Dakari Johnson Takes Advantage Of Opportunity

Rookie center Dakari Johnson is making a case to stay in the Thunder rotation once Steven Adams returns from injury, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. The 48th pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson saw his first significant NBA playing time Friday and responded with nine points in 23 minutes in a win over the Clippers.

  • Raymond Felton‘s steadying effect on the Thunder bench has been a bright spot in a disappointing start to the season, notes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The veteran point guard signed with Oklahoma City for the veterans’ minimum over the summer and is now on his seventh team since entering the league in 2005. “I think the glue guy to that group has really been Raymond,” OKC coach Billy Donovan said. “I think having veteran leadership back there from him at least allows me to communicate, and then he’s so good at managing the game, that regardless of the personnel that’s out there he can do a really terrific job of getting everybody where they need to be.”
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