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Oklahoma City Thunder will hunt for bargains

By Mike Baldwin Modified: February 22, 2009 at 1:47 am •  Published: February 22, 2009
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The Thunder didn’t land Tyson Chandler, a much needed defensive enforcer, to anchor a shaky defense.

But don’t fret, Thunder fans. There will be opportunities to sign a quality player this summer.

Trades made, better yet trades not made, was proof it’s a buyer’s market. And it should remain a buyer’s market the next 12 months, possibly longer.

In a buyer’s market there are bargains. Ask any real estate agent you know.

By clearing cap space the past two years, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has flexibility that should benefit him in free agency.

While it was disappointing to not land Chandler, the Thunder could sign an up-and-coming player like Knicks big man David Lee, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Atlanta’s Marvin Williams, the Lakers’ Lamar Odom or Utah’s Paul Millsap.

Other free agents this summer include: Mike Bibby, Raymond Felton, Andre Miller, Linas Kleiza, Leon Powe, Charlie Villanueva and slam dunk champion Nate Robinson.

It’s doubtful Presti would sign an aging All-Star. But some team will commit valuable cap space to Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Ron Artest and Rasheed Wallace.

Some players mentioned above will be restricted free agents. They can match any offer Presti makes. Others will re-sign with their current team.

But Lee is a prime example how the shaky economy could work in Oklahoma City’s favor. Lee probably will seek a $10 million-a-year deal which isn’t a bad price for someone averaging 16.