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.
The Thunder has long had its core identified and for the past three years has tried to surround it with complementary pieces.
Instead of exceeding the tax, it seems more likely the Thunder will rely on younger players like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III to fill in. The goal, as it's been in the past, would be to develop those players to with the hope that they're playing their best ball come playoff time.
Additionally, because the Thunder has such a talented roster there just isn't a ton of playing time to be had for potential free agents. That reality, coupled with the Thunder's financial constraints, likely will keep the hotter names away from Oklahoma City.
Minor moves are more of what's expected.
The Thunder needs a third string point guard behind Westbrook and Jackson. Possibilities include names like Royal Ivey, Chris Duhon and Nolan Smith. None of them are impact players, but they're the type of players that would fit on the books and in the locker room.
It's also possible that the Thunder stands pat altogether.
OKC could go into the season with a 14-man roster and reserve what little room it has left under the tax threshold to use in a trade or an in-season signing.
The Thunder has some decisions to make now that July 1 is here.
But given the team's current state, it's shaping up to be a relatively quiet summer.