The Thunder has agreed to a one-year, minimum contract with Sebastian Telfair, a 6-foot point guard and nine-year NBA veteran who played last season in China. Here are three reasons why the Thunder is bringing in the 29-year-old former lottery pick.
Depth. The departure of Derek Fisher has left a need for a third point guard. The Thunder historically has preferred veterans in that role, whether for leadership purposes or to have a trustworthy and steady hand to call on in emergency situations. Telfair will backup starter Russell Westbrook and sixth man Reggie Jackson. Unless Jackson is named the starting shooting guard, Telfair doesn’t figure to play much as the third-string point guard. But the Thunder wanted to add some insurance in case another guard might be needed at some point.
Experience. Telfair has played for seven teams over the course of his nine NBA seasons. He’s averaged 21.6 minutes over 548 career games. And he’s still in his prime, which is a luxury for a team relying on Telfair to be only a third-stringer. Unlike a rookie, Telfair can likely be counted on to produce at the most critical position in the league whenever called upon. Even when he’s not playing in games, he’s pushing Westbrook and Jackson in practices and perhaps is capable of offering advice on the sidelines.
Cost. Let’s be honest. This is the main reason the Thunder targeted Telfair. He’s cheap labor. He has intriguing qualities in addition to coming at a relatively inexpensive price. But the cap-friendly veteran minimum of about $1.3 million that Telfair is set to earn is the primary reason the Thunder is bringing him in. Telfair is an addition that accomplishes a few things, but mostly he keeps the Thunder’s costs down as the team looks to stay under the tax threshold again this season.