The Offseason: Financial Fiasco

While I am not a super financial connoisseur of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we still need to break open the books and talk about the financial situation with the Oklahoma City Thunder. We’ll do that today. You can read the other installments on the current roster, expiring contracts, percentages to re-sign those contracts, and the NBA Draft.


The sudden rise salary cap shifted the entire landscape of the NBA. Suddenly, everyone had the ability to sign big named free agents. Once again, that cap is going to take another jump in the stratosphere. Oklahoma City though, have their hands full. The Salary Cap is expected to rise another $8 million this season, another significant jump. It was set at $94.1 million this season.

When July 1 rolls around, the Thunder will be over the cap. If the cap projections hold steady at $102 million, Oklahoma City will be over the cap by about $8 million and that’s with only 10 players already signed. The Luxury tax line, a point where teams are penalized more for being over the soft cap line, is projected to be $124 million.


What’s a cap hold? It’s a marker of salary, based on the previous year’s salary, onto the cap. Cap holds are “placeholders” for players the team is expected to sign in the future. Such as, Taj Gibson’s cap hold is $13,425,000. That immediately puts the Thunder into the luxury tax with only 11 players signed, if Gibson was to re-signed.

All current cap holds: Taj Gibson ($13,425,000), Nick Collison ($7,125,000), Andre Roberson (RFA, $5,457,680), Jerami Grant (TO, $1,724,305).

That’s $27,479,062 in cap holds. If Oklahoma City were to re-sign everyone at their hold rate, they would be over the luxury tax line by $13 million. We know the franchise is notoriously cheap. We also know that paying that much for a middle level Western Conference team won’t do, so Oklahoma City won’t be able to re-sign everyone. Gibson will probably get what his hold is from another team. Collison could be cheaper than his and Roberson will see his number almost triple. Expect Oklahoma City to extend that team option for Jerami Grant.


Remember when people were: a) shocked Oklahoma City signed Ronnie Price b) shocked when Semaj Christon made the team over him? Well, this has come back to bite Oklahoma City in the backside a bit. He held a $2.5 million spot this season and that will drop to $2.4 million next season. That’s $2.4 million that could help Oklahoma City in the money lines, stay out of the tax or even just have some movement from being in a hard cap situation.


There aren’t a lot of things Oklahoma City can do to create space. Enes Kanter’s $36.5 million over the next two years, with a player option for his last year, could be one that isn’t here next season. Look at Kyle Singler, too. He’s owed almost $15 million over the next three seasons, with the third season being a team option. Doug McDermott’s $7.8 million if he doesn’t pan out this next season could be a contract that would be movable.


With the additions of Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo’s contracts, the Thunder’s salary as we said has jumped out big time. With that, Oklahoma City’s expectations for free agents should be slim to none. They have no money and if they use the mid-level exception, they’re going to go way over the luxury cap. Oklahoma City may have to move someone to really stay underneath the luxury line.

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