OKLAHOMA CITY — It is no secret the Oklahoma City Thunder are up against the wall in terms of financial flexibility. As a result, some major shakeups could potentially be on the Thunder’s horizon.
According to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer, the Thunder have made Steven Adams, Dennis Schröder and Andre Roberson available in trade talks.
Oklahoma City has increased its efforts this afternoon to shed salary along with the No. 21 pick en route to dodging luxury tax, league sources say. Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Dennis Schroeder all very available at the moment.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 19, 2019
With tomorrow’s NBA Draft, reports have circulated that Oklahoma City is interested in trading their pick. It makes sense. OKC is in win-now mode with Russell Westbrook and Paul George in their respective primes. A 21st overall draft pick’s chances of helping the team win now are extremely slim.
It would also save the Thunder another guaranteed contract.
Along with Westbrook and George, the Thunder are committed to paying $97 million to their three stars if they keep Adams. He is scheduled to make $53 million of his $100 million contract he signed in the fall of 2016 over the next two seasons.
While Adams has flashed All-Star potential in the past, the second-halves of the past two seasons show a plateau in his development. The six-year NBA veteran has shown little to no ability to stretch the floor — hampering OKC’s already lack of diversity on offense. His heavy workload has resulted in a drop in his perimeter defense on pick and rolls and switches.
In the final two games of the postseason for the Thunder, Adams did not register a single fourth quarter minute in both losses.
If OKC is able to move Adams, they will lose the anchor of their defense but allow themselves more flexibility in an already exciting free agency period. They could possibly gain a key rotational piece or two. With Sam Presti as GM, there is always the possibility for an earth shattering trade. If that is to happen, Adams will more than likely have to be dealt.
Schröder’s first season was a success in Oklahoma City. But at $15.5 million a year, Schröder is overpaid as a backup point guard. “Overpaid” also applies simply due to the Thunder’s financial situation.
Schröder’s exit interview saw the German-born guard express his gratitude for the organization he believes saved him from a bad situation in Atlanta. From his words, the feeling around the media room was that Schröder was at peace with his one-year in OKC.
Roberson hasn’t played basketball since January 2018. His knee injury has been marred by several setbacks which has kept the defensive specialist off the floor for a season and a half. The emergence of Terrance Ferguson last year helped ease the pain of Roberson’s absence.
It also gives the Thunder optimism that they can move on from Roberson with Ferguson on a cheaper deal. When you consider the amount of time Roberson has been away and the unknown factor of what type of player he can be when he returns, it makes sense that the Thunder have made him available.
Roberson is scheduled to make $10 million next season but is an expiring contract, which is always popular for transactions.
The plan is not simply to shed salary and save tax money. Presti and ownership have shown their commitment to win and pay the necessary bills. But two first-round exits with primarily this team and obvious weaknesses on the roster may force the Thunder’s hand to improve.
The Thunder are not going to avoid paying any money on a tax bill. They want to improve, but in order to do that, some tough decisions may need to be made.
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12, in addition to weekly guest spots on “The Franchise Drive” on Tuesdays and “The Franchise Morning Show” on Wednesdays. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports