The Thunder has reached out to representatives for Paul Millsap, the Utah Jazz restricted free agent forward, according to a source with knowledge of negotiations.
Oklahoma City entered into preliminary talks with Millsap's camp about 30 minutes into the start of free agency late Tuesday night. Teams were permitted to begin negotiating with free agents at 11 p.m. Central Time.
Jazz officials were the first to call Millsap's agent, DeAngelo Simmons, but the Thunder was second in line shortly after Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor ignited talks of re-signing the 6-foot-8 Millsap.
Early discussions between the Thunder and Millsap's representatives have been described as positive, but there is nothing concrete between the two sides. A follow-up conversation could take place later Wednesday.
The Thunder is one of over a half dozen teams that have shown interest in Millsap in the opening hours of free agency, including a handful of teams that weren't expected to make a run at him because of a lack of salary cap space.
Oklahoma City could sign Millsap to an offer sheet in the coming days, but the Jazz would have the right to match any offer to retain him.
Utah is believed to indeed be interested in matching any offer to retain Millsap despite currently having more than $72 million tied up in player's salary, a figure that already is above the luxury tax threshold, which is expected to decrease for next season.
But Utah could match any offer for Millsap as insurance for starting power forward Carlos Boozer, who decided to not opt out of the final year of his contract but could eventually be traded to clear salary and playing time for Millsap.
Thunder officials late Tuesday night aimed to gauge Millsap's character and the 24-year-old's interest in coming to Oklahoma City. Millsap's camp was said to have questions about playing time with the Thunder and Millsap's potential role.
Additional playing time and a bigger role could ultimately be a key negotiating chip for the Thunder if Oklahoma City goes all in. Millsap is almost certainly stuck behind Boozer for as long as the two-time All-Star is on the roster. But among the options in Oklahoma City are moving Kevin Durant back to shooting guard and sliding Jeff Green to small forward to create a starting spot for Millsap.
Millsap's representatives are also interested in helping the Thunder maintain salary cap flexibility to remain in the best position to re-sign Durant and Green to contract extensions before the start of the 2010-11 season. Options could include a frontloaded contract and a more incentive-based deal.
But the biggest two questions that will become clear over the next few days are, how much the Thunder is willing to offer and will the Jazz ultimately match?
Millsap is coming off a career year, averaging 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 blocks in 76 games, including 38 as a starter.