Oklahoma City Thunder Trade Rumors: Enes Kanter Signs Long-Term Contract, OKC Could Be Forced To Make Trade

Oklahoma City Thunder trade rumors stem from the team signing Enes Kanter. Now an OKC trade might take place so that the franchise can shed some salary to avoid extra luxury tax penalties. A report from CBS Sports late Sunday (July 12) confirms that Oklahoma City has decided to match the contract offer Kanter received from the Portland Trail Blazers. It calls for him to be paid $70 million over the next four seasons and is currently considered to be a max deal.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Blazers had the money to offer Kanter a huge contract in free agency. The team needed a center after Robin Lopez decided to sign with the New York Knicks, and Kanter became available at the right time. The offer may have also been a strategic one, as the Blazers knew that the Thunder planned to match any offer extended to Kanter because he was a restricted free agent. As a division rival, Portland forced OKC to pay a bit more than the front office wanted to.

The reason that several Oklahoma City Thunder trade rumors have sprouted up is because the team is deep into luxury tax territory now. This is the very same reason that the front office said it could not afford to keep James Harden, which likely frustrates fans that feel he could have helped the team win a title by now. Instead of giving Harden that max contract, OKC has instead decided that Enes Kanter is the man who deserves it.

The estimated salary for Enes Kanter during his contract is $17.5 million per year. For the 2015-16 NBA season, that makes him the second highest-paid player on the Thunder. He is just behind the $20.2 million for Kevin Durant, and just ahead of the $16.75 million for Russell Westbrook. Having Kanter make more money than Westbrook is an interesting consequence that the team may soon have to deal with. Counting the recent deal with Kyle Singler ($25 million for five years), the OKC salary expense for next year is now at about $97 million. That’s without even counting the luxury tax penalties. The current NBA salary cap is at an estimated $70 million.

With only a soft salary cap in the NBA, there is no requirement that OKC deal away any players. The risk is in how much they go past the luxury tax threshold. During the 2013-14 NBA season, that mark was set at $71.7 million. If it is over by at least $20 million, the fine is $3.75 million for every million over and an additional half million per $5 million over. Meaning for every dollar over the threshold, OKC would have to pay about $4.25 million extra in penalties alone.

Facing that stiff penalty for the 2015-16 NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder trade rumors just make sense for the team. Exactly what players get dealt, and to which cities they might go is currently being debated by basketball analysts.

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