The Thunder released reserve center Daniel Orton on Thursday.
It's a move that had become increasingly likely given that Orton, a Bishop McGuinness product, was projected to be the fourth center after the team drafted center Steven Adams in June with the 12th overall pick.
Adams is on a guaranteed rookie scale contract, while Orton was on a non-guaranteed deal, meaning the Thunder saves approximately $900,000 by waiving Orton now. The Thunder would have had to pay Orton his full salary for this season had he made the team.
“It's just part of the business,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I thought he did a good job while he was here. It's just we have to make cuts … But I wish him well. I'm sure he'll get picked up.”
Releasing Orton now also gives the Thunder an opportunity to enter the regular season with 14 players, a strategic move many teams employ to maintain flexibility in the event a roster move must be made during the regular season.
But with starting point guard Russell Westbrook expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season, the Thunder also could give its 15th roster spot to Diante Garrett, a third-string point guard who's currently on a training camp invitation.
Orton appeared in 13 games with the Thunder last season, averaging two points, two rebounds and eight minutes.
He had a strong summer league showing in Orlando, and with nearly three weeks remaining before the regular season begins his release should give him an opportunity to latch on with another team.
JEREMY LAMB'S SHOOTING STRUGGLES NOT YET A CONCERN
With guard Kevin Martin now in Minnesota, the role of bench shooter now falls to Jeremy Lamb, the second-year guard out of UConn who appeared in just 23 games as a rookie.
But Lamb didn't exactly alleviate concerns of whether he is ready with his performance in the Thunder's first two preseason games. He missed 11 of his 12 attempts from 3-point range. Some rattled in and out. Others were air-balls.