The NBA’s free agency period gets under way today, and some of the biggest names on the market have been linked to the Thunder. Oklahoma City should be at least $11 million below the salary cap when the 2009-10 figure is announced next week.
With so much room, the Thunder could target some of the most talented players on the market. Oklahoma City is widely considered a likely destination for players such as Utah’s Paul Millsap, Chicago’s Ben Gordon and New York’s David Lee. Orlando’s Marcin Gortat and Boston’s Leon Powe also could be two less-heralded players who find their way on the Thunder’s roster this summer. Although teams are now permitted to negotiate with free agents, signings can’t be made official until July 8. For Thunder fans, Desmond Mason, a local favorite, is one of 103 unrestricted free agents. An Oklahoma State product, Mason played for the Thunder during its inaugural season. He also played with the Hornets when Oklahoma City was their home away from home after Hurricane Katrina. There also are 40 restricted free agents. Teams can sign restricted free agents to offer sheets, but their current teams have the right to retain them if they match the offer. Asked his approach to free agency, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said, "It’s not going to be prudent to let restlessness be our nemesis. We need to approach this summer with an eye toward the future as well as the present.”