OKC Thunder: If any free agents re-sign with Thunder, it'll likely be for minimum wage

Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey officially became unrestricted free agents Sunday and are free to flirt with whomever they please. If any is to re-sign with the Thunder, it almost certainly will be for minimum wage.
BY JOHN ROHDE Published: June 30, 2012
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Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey officially became unrestricted free agents Sunday and are free to flirt with whomever they please.

If any is to re-sign with the Thunder, it almost certainly will be for minimum wage.

OKC is not a big player in the free-agent market, never has been since Sam Presti inherited a Seattle slew of bad contracts when he was hired as SuperSonics general manager in June of 2007.

Presti occasionally dips his toe into the free-agent pool. When he has, it has come at a minimal cost with funds available at or under the league's salary cap.

The Thunder's days of residing inside the NBA salary cap appear to be long gone with the rookie contracts for James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor up for renewal after the 2012-13 season.

Two summers ago, when the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami, several NBA players were willing to accept minimum wage to become cast members with the Heat.

The same scenario likely awaits the Thunder, if the franchise has any shot at keeping its young core intact through 2016 and beyond. It also will be harder for OKC to retain role players with expiring contracts.

Presti's philosophy has been to build on prospects, not bid on players. Given the team's significant progress in a short period of time, the approach has been tremendously successful.

To keep the young talent that has prospered with the fledgling franchise, the Thunder now must do all it can to stay under the NBA's luxury tax threshold to avoid paying serious penalties drafted under the new collective bargaining agreement.

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