Since relocating to OKC, the Thunder’s three biggest free agent signings are Derek Fisher, Caron Butler and Nenad Krstic, none national headliners. And all three of those deals came during the season. In the offseason, Presti has limited his free agent transactions to low-risk flyers, signing guys like Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Ryan Gomes and, this year, Sebastian Telfair to nonguaranteed minimum deals.
Presti has built this roster through the draft and trades. He’s used up most of his cap space, understandably, by locking down some of the league’s best young talent to long-term deals. And by the time Presti gets around to free agency, he typically doesn’t have a ton of money left to spend.
There’s been enough to get in the running for some players. He’s gone after a few in the past, even inking C.J. Miles to a four-year, $14.8 million offer sheet back in 2008, which Utah matched.
But two things typically lure free agents — a willingness to overpay (Jordan Hill just signed for $9 million a year, Jodie Meeks just got more than $6 million a season) or a large, appealing market to promote. Presti doesn’t have either.
And in bidding wars — like the Thunder’s attempt to get Mike Miller last offseason or the run at Pau Gasol this past month — that has continually proved too much for OKC to overcome.