Non-guaranteed contracts become fully guaranteed on Jan. 10 each season. Before the deadline, non-guaranteed pay is prorated.
If Thabeet, Orton, Liggins and Jerrett make the 2013-14 roster, the Thunder would have the full allotment of 15 players and a team salary of approximately $70.9 million, which is safely under the league's punitive tax threshold of $71.7 million.
Those non-guaranteed deals also give OKC the flexibility to waive Thabeet, Orton and/or Liggins before Jan. 10, which would free up salary and make room for someone like veteran guard Derek Fisher, who has been a late addition the previous two seasons.
Orton, who turns 23 on Aug. 6, is 31/2 years younger than Thabeet and is easily the Thunder's most talented offensive center.
With the hefty contract of starting center Kendrick Perkins expiring after the 2014-15 season, Thabeet, Orton and Adams have an opportunity to line up as far more affordable replacements.
Who knows, Orton might already be next in line.
Players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft can be offered 80 and 120 percent of their predetermined pay rate in that year's rookie salary scale.
Lottery picks routinely sign for 120 percent of their pay rate, which is why center Steven Adams of Pittsburgh reportedly will be paid $2,090,880 his rookie season with the Thunder rather than the $1,742,400 slotted for the No. 12 overall pick.
OKC saved money with rookie small forward Andre Roberson of Colorado, however, and reportedly will pay him $740,560 next season rather than the $925,700 slotted for the No. 26 overall pick.
Second-round picks do not have guaranteed contracts. Next season's minimum salary starts at $490,180, which is what Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett, picked No. 40 overall, will be paid if he makes the Thunder roster.
PLAYER; 2013-14 SALARY
Kevin Durant; $17,832,627
Russell Westbrook; $14,693,906
Serge Ibaka; $12,350,000
Kendrick Perkins; $8,727,437
Thabo Sefolosha; $3,900,000
Nick Collison; $2,585,668
Jeremy Lamb; $2,111,160
Steven Adams; $2,090,880
Reggie Jackson; $1,260,360
Perry Jones III; $1,082,520
Andre Roberson; $740,560
x-Hasheem Thabeet: $1,200,000
Daniel Orton; $916,099
DeAndre Liggins; $884,293
Grant Jerrett; $490,180