KEVIN MARTIN ROUNDTABLE
1. If Kevin Martin says he'll stay in OKC for $5 million per season, should the Thunder pay it?
Darnell Mayberry: Sounds good in theory. But no. Even that sweetheart deal would put the Thunder over the tax and bring stiff penalties next year and in subsequent seasons.
John Rohde: It would actually be more than $5 million because part of that salary would be taxed $1.50 for every $1 above the tax level. The Thunder is up against the tax threshold and Martin is about to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time. That's lousy timing on both sides.
Berry Tramel: I don't see how they can. Signing anyone in the $3-5 million range will put the Thunder over the luxury tax threshold, and since the Thunder is headed into Tax Land in 2014-15 and 2015-16, OKC has to do whatever it can to stay out of the tax next season, to avoid paying the punitive repeater rate.
2. What's the most the Thunder should be willing to offer Martin?
Mayberry: The number I'm thinking of is an insult to Martin. No offer would be more respectable.
Rohde: I'd love to say OKC could offer $3 million, but it probably can't even afford that. We could be looking at minimum wage, which for a nine-year veteran is $1,272,279. Sadly, there might not be a team in the NBA less able to afford Martin than the small-market Thunder.
Tramel: I don't see how the Thunder can pay any free agent as much as $3 million. The Thunder's best bet is to find a long-time veteran willing to pay for the minimum salary, since there are rules that will keep that from too heavily taxed. In other words, if the Thunder pays a 10-year vet the minimum (somewhere in the $1.4 million), then only part of that money counts against the cap and the tax. It's a rule designed to keep veterans in the league.
3. Do you think Martin will return next season? If not, why not?
Mayberry: No. He's still capable of being one of the best scorers in the league, and some team could really use his services. Use them much more than the Thunder, which is not going to break the bank to keep a sixth man that was a forced fit. The Thunder has Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb waiting in line, two players whose combined salaries are less than it likely would take to bring K-Mart back. And for all we know they both might be better suited for K-Mart's role than K-Mart was. Even if they're not ready today, Lamb and Jackson are in the early stages of their development. They're getting better while K-Mart's best days are behind him.
Rohde: If Martin is on next year's roster, every Thunder fan should kiss his feet because he would be forfeiting multi-multi-millions. Other veterans have accepted minimum wage and it's expected to happen more frequently because of the severe tax penalties of the new CBA, but don't expect it to happen here.
Tramel: I think Martin would like to return, and I think OKC would like him to return, but unless Martin is willing to play for a fraction of his worth – and even then, only with a one-year contract – then there's no way.