Re-signing Kevin Durant is obviously the Oklahoma City Thunder’s No. 1 priority this offseason, but they do have a few other tough decisions to make.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, it makes the most sense for Durant to stay with the Thunder. If Durant signs a one-year contract or even a two-year deal with an opt-out after one season with the Thunder, he could make as much as $50 million more than if he left OKC this offseason.
KD on Coach D's 1st year. "He kept us together. Did a great job getting everybody locked in every single night." pic.twitter.com/1D6Xzs6yyS— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) June 1, 2016
However, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News wrote that maximizing his earnings may not be Durant’s top priority.
“‘He is not the kind of guy who wants to fiddle around in free agency and sort of play the system that way,’ said one source who has worked with the Thunder forward. ‘That is not his personality. He likes stability and it is kind of a gamble to be taking a short contract and then trying to come back and do it all over again in a year. That’s the other thing. He is not someone who wants to go through this twice, I really don’t think. It’s no sure thing.'”
Regardless of what Durant ultimately decides to do, the Thunder have some important decisions to make. Randy Foye and Nazr Mohammad are slated to join Durant on the open market as unrestricted free agents.
The first decision that Oklahoma City has to make is whether or not to re-sign Dion Waiters. Waiters could be a restricted free agent if the Thunder tender him a qualifying offer of $6.777 million. The 24-year-old made $5.138 million this past season.
Waiters has been very inconsistent over his four-year career. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has the ability to score in bunches but is a volume scorer as he is plagued by poor shot selection. He also has all the tools to be a great defender though he tends to lose focus, which turns him into only an average defender.
Waiters was better this year than he was during the 2014-15 season. He averaged 9.8 points a game, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists a contest while shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. Waiters reached double-figures 34 times during the regular season.
Waiters had several fantastic playoff games, at least during the first two rounds, and scored double-figures in eight-of-his-19 playoff games overall – OKC went 7-1 when Waiters tallied double-figures. He finished the playoffs, averaging 8.4 points along with 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He also shot 41.7 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Bobby Marks of The Vertical reports that if the Thunder sign both Waiters and Durant, they will be over the cap and pressed against the luxury tax. This would limit OKC’s options in free agency though the Thunder aren’t big spenders as it is.
For his part, Waiters told the Oklahoma News that he would be interested in returning to the Thunder next year.
“Of course. Why not? Since I got here I feel as though they have helped me become a better person off the court. It’s not even about basketball. I’ve never been connected with a group of guys like this that I’m actually close to. Why not? The best fans in the world. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back.”
The next decision OKC has to make is whether to guarantee Anthony Morrow’s contract at $3.488 million,Morrow had the worst season of his career this past season, averaging 5.6 points a game while shooting 40.8 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. The Thunder have until July 15 to make a decision on the 30-year-old.
Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are eligible for rookie extensions this offseason. The final pressing question is should the Thunder do the extensions?
Both Adams and Roberson are starters and have developed over time since being drafted in 2013. Adams averaged 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds while shooting 61.7 percent from the field last season. Meanwhile, Roberson is known more for his defense than offense. He produced a career-high 4.8 points and shot a career-best 49.6 percent from the field as well as 31.1 on three-point attempts.
Marks believes with Adams and Roberson having low cap holds of $7.5 million and $5.4 million, respectively, OKC would be best off not doing the extensions, thus keeping its cap flexibility in 2017.
Even if OKC ends up over the salary cap, the Thunder will have a $5.62 million exception available to spend on any free agents. Evan Massey of Forbes suggests that OKC may pursue Los Angeles Clippers free agent guard Jamal Crawford, Miami Heat free agent wing Joe Johnson or perhaps Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith. All three players would provide the scoring and shooting off the bench that the Thunder would be looking for in case Waiters leaves.
[Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press]