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Oklahoma City Thunder: Reports say Thunder leads Pau Gasol sweepstakes

The addition of Gasol to the Thunder lineup might mean the end of Kendrick Perkins in OKC.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 2, 2014

Using the latter scenario, the Thunder hypothetically could take on Gasol with a generous three-year, $33.3 million contract that has a first-year salary of $12 million — which adds only $3 million to what Perkins was set to make but keeps OKC beneath the tax threshold — and a third-year salary of $10.2 million.

Perhaps a more realistic offer given the widely held belief that Gasol will take less to play for a title contender is a three-year, $27.75 million deal. It would have a first-year salary of $10 million and decrease to $8.5 million by the final year.

Why would the Lakers take back Perkins?

Start with the fact that L.A. is at risk of losing Gasol for nothing. If the Lakers help the Thunder in this manner, Oklahoma City could send them a quality post defender and perhaps some mix of a future draft pick, a prospect such as Tibor Pleiss or maybe Perry Jones III. Not only could the Lakers slide Perkins in nicely with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle, but L.A. also retains ample room under the cap to chase an additional star this summer. And Because Perkins’ $9 million is coming off the books, in addition to Nash’s $9.7 million deal, the Lakers would have about $19 million in expiring contracts to again play with next summer.

Adding more intrigue to the idea is the possibility of Gasol being joined in OKC by an old pal — Mike Miller.

Miller and Gasol were teammates for five seasons in Memphis and share the same agent, the powerful Arn Tellem, who also represents Perkins. Miller turned down the Thunder last summer to return to Memphis, and already has expressed his desire to remain with the Grizzlies. But how might the presence of Gasol on the Thunder change his mind? Oklahoma City reportedly is again targeting Miller, and when Miller posted an Internet picture of himself and Durant in Los Angeles this week it only fueled speculation that he could be headed this way.

An off-season that started with a draft that left you wanting to see more suddenly has the potential to be spectacular.

For that to happen, the Thunder must fend off teams such as Chicago, San Antonio, Miami and Golden State, a high hurdle in and of itself, and the Lakers would then have to agree to the proposal. Gasol, meanwhile, would have to be willing to structure his deal in such a way that it would either eliminate annual raises or include only partial or conditional guarantees in the final year.

Much must go in the Thunder’s favor.

But it can be done.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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