Those essentially were best-case scenarios for the Thunder.
None of those estimates take into account Kevin Durant's actual contract. Lowe provided those payroll estimates as a way of examining what could have been had the NBA not voted to award Durant a 5 percent pay increase on his new contract, or approximately $3 million more per season for five seasons.
“The estimated payroll figures with Harden on board, and with Durant's actual (higher) salary, jump into the $95 million-$100 million range with Perkins still aboard and $85 million range with Perkins amnestied,” Lowe wrote.
The Brooklyn Nets, with $100 million committed in salaries, project to have the league's highest payroll next season. They play in the country's largest market (which generates considerably more revenue than Oklahoma City) and have the NBA's second richest owner. And even the Nets have folks in disbelief at their willingness to take on a projected tax bill of $86 million.
That tax payment alone is expected to be more than any other franchise will pay in team salary this season.
To this day, many still mock the Thunder for declining a similar distinction; for trying to be smart and, as Lewis put it, master the art of winning an unfair game.
“Harden wanted a max deal, and he deserved one,” Lowe wrote. “Given that basic reality, the four-star dream was financially unattainable.”Thunderball: The Thunder's future and the legacy of the...