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OKC Thunder: Expect Thunder to stand pat during free agency season

It's not because the team isn't interested in improving. The Thunder simply lacks both roster spots and resources.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 30, 2013

The NBA's free agency period is upon us, but the Oklahoma City Thunder is expected to remain relatively quiet all summer.

It's not because the team isn't interested in improving.

The Thunder simply lacks both roster spots and resources.

As many as 12 players from last season could return. And as many as three of this year's four draft picks could be signed. If so, that wouldn't leave any room at all on the 15-man roster.

But the Thunder has a small amount of wiggle room.

Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins have non-guaranteed contracts for next year. One or all of them could be waived before the season to create additional roster spots. Then it becomes a money matter.

The projected tax threshold for next season is $71.6 million. Should the Thunder bring back Thabeet, Orton and Liggins, and sign only 12th overall pick Steven Adams and 26th pick Andre Roberson, the team would be only about $2 million below that mark.

If the Thunder exceeds the tax threshold next season it would pay $1.50 for every $1 over. Other restrictive measures could also handcuff the Thunder, and the team wouldn't receive a cut of the distributed tax fund to non-taxpaying teams — roughly $2 million.

Combine those complications with the Thunder's history of relative silence in free agency and it's shaping up to be another quiet summer for OKC.

The good news is the Thunder doesn't need a home run.

With stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, as well as defensive stalwart Serge Ibaka, the Thunder has its core in place. Those three alone will earn about $45 million next season, which limits the franchise's ability to splurge on any new pieces. But few teams have a core comprised of two All-Stars and a two-time All-Defensive First Team selection.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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