The Oklahoma City Thunder announced earlier this week that they have officially signed veteran guard Ronnie Price. Due to club policy, the terms of the deal were not released to the public. Price spent the entirety of the 2015-16 season with the Phoenix Suns, playing in 62 games and starting 18 of them. Ronnie Price was able to play a total of 1,211 minutes last season, which happened to be the first time that Price has exceeded the 1,000-minute mark in a single season.
At 32-years-old, Ronnie Price will provide much needed veteran leadership in the locker room of the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is always important for young players like Cameron Payne to have a hardworking veteran like Ronnie Price to compete against in practice and to learn from on a daily basis. The addition of Ronnie Price should translate to an easier leadership burden for Russell Westbrook as well. A team can never have too many players like Ronnie Price.
During the 2015-16 season, Ronnie Price averaged 19.5 minutes, 5.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers per game. Price managed to average career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and totaled the most minutes of his career. Price shot 38.4 percent from the field, 45.3 percent on 2-point field goals, 34.7 percent on 3-point field goals, and 75.6 percent on free throws. Last season was the best season of Ronnie Price’s career.
Ronnie Price primarily was used as a perimeter shooting option on the offensive side, and his field goal percentage was profoundly affected as a result. Price averaged 4.9 field goal attempts per game, 3.2 of those were from beyond the 3-point line. Therefore, Price managed to have a relatively efficient shooting season for what his role demanded of him. Being a perimeter shooter is largely why Ronnie Price is capable as an injury replacement player. Price opens up the floor for his teammates by playing well without the ball in his hands.
Ronnie Price has had the career of a real NBA journeyman. The Oklahoma City Thunder will be the sixth team that Ronnie Price has played on during his NBA career. Prices’ 10-year career began with the Sacramento Kings during the 2005-06 season, where he played for two seasons. Price then signed with the Utah Jazz and played there from 2007 and departed following the 2011 season. Ronnie Price has switched teams in every season since the 2010-11 season.
Following the 2010-11 season with the Utah Jazz, Ronnie Price has been with the Phoenix Suns (2011-12 season), Portland Trail Blazers (2012-13 season), Orlando Magic (2013-14 season), Los Angeles Lakers (2014-15), and the Phoenix Suns (2015-16 season) again. It has been a struggle for Ronnie Price to earn playing time in games throughout his career. Price has played in over 60 games during only three seasons of his NBA career. However, Ronnie Price has exceeded an average of 12 minutes per game in eight consecutive seasons, but has just failed to play in many games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder now have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster. Meaning that the Thunder will be only signing training camp contracts for the remainder of the off-season, unless they clear a roster spot by making a trade. It is important to note that Oklahoma City has historically made deals during the late stages of the off-season, so do not rule that out. Official terms of the contract have not been disclosed. However, The Vertical reported that Ronnie Price signed a two-year, $5 million guaranteed contract, which pushes the Oklahoma City Thunder with around $91.8 million in total salary. The Thunder have an estimated $2.3 million in salary cap space.
It is possible that the Oklahoma City Thunder could use their room exception to sign Ronnie Price, which would allow them to exceed a veteran’s minimum contract. For the 2016-17 season, the room exception begins at $2.89 million for a contract up to seasons. Ronnie Price would be a quality candidate for the room exception. However, Oklahoma City could have used cap space if they wanted to save their room exception for an additional player before the start of the upcoming season. Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried has been the only player that the Oklahoma City Thunder have been connected to in the rumor mill lately.
With a total of 15 guaranteed contracts, it is likely that Ronnie Price is the player that the Thunder would use their room exception to sign. Oklahoma City would need to make a trade to create a roster spot if they were to use their room exception for an additional player. With the unexpected departure of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, the conditions seem to be set for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make a trade to bolster their roster around their lone superstar, Russell Westbrook. Especially since the Thunder traded away Serge Ibaka to try and retain Kevin Durant, which ended creating a further imbalance of their roster.
As it currently stands, the Oklahoma City Thunder are projected to have a starting lineup consisting of Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams, according to RotoWorld. It would be ideal for the Thunder to try and upgrade the small forward and power forward positions. Ersan Ilyasova and Enes Kanter do not appear to be sufficient pieces for what the Oklahoma City Thunder want to achieve, which is ultimately why a late off-season trade shouldn’t be ruled out for the Thunder. Regardless, Ronnie Price will in all likelihood be the point guard in the third unit for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2016-17 season.
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