As we said in our Deadline tracker, the Oklahoma City Thunder were going to be relatively quiet through the 2 p.m. CST deadline. Sure, there were some nibbles but the fact is players they wanted, Avery Bradley and Tyreke Evans, opposing teams wanted way too much. Then, another player Oklahoma City was interested in, Tony Allen, could be found on the buyout market without giving up anything.
Here’s the thing. Oklahoma City gets knocked for their horrible start. If Andre Roberson doesn’t get hurt and the Thunder aren’t robbed on three different occasions by the officiating, the Thunder are near a 40-win team. However, they’re not and the fan base is freaking out.
I guess it’s rightfully so they are. Oklahoma City is known for excellence. Since 2009-10, the Thunder have been one of the best teams, and sometimes in the regular season, the best team. So, some of the freak out is warranted.
So, the Thunder were quiet and will be very active in the buyout market. Why though? Why go after a player who is really a rental for a couple of months? What is the buyout market? Do the Thunder need it?
First we’re going answer what it is and what are the stipulations:
- Usually veteran players who have been traded (see: Derrick Rose and Joe Johnson) to a non-contending team. The newer team will agree to a minimal buy out and release the player so they can go play for a contending team on a minimum salary.
- Players have to be signed by March 1 to be playoff eligible. There is history throughout the league of players signing due to injury, etc. They weren’t playoff eligible.
- As said in No. 1, a lot of times it’s for a minimum contract. You can that through two steps. First, you take the minimum salary for their experience and you divide it by the number of days in the season. This season that’s 177 days. So, for let’s say Joakim Noah, He’ll get approximately $13,156 for 60 days or approximately $789,373. Each day between the posting of this article when he’s signed, it’ll decrease by the $13,156. So, if he signs on March 1, Noah would make $552,561.
Why do the Thunder need to do this?
Well, in short term, Andre Roberson’s injury has put the Thunder in a predicament where they do need someone to help defend but the Thunder realize they’re not going to be able to find a level of defender of Roberson’s caliber to replace him. So, you’re really look for a plug to fix the leak for the rest of the season. It’s not Terrance Ferguson. We know that much. There are opportunities out there.
This trade deadline, despite whatever ESPN or your best friend has told you, is not about convincing Paul George to stay. If he doesn’t think Oklahoma City is the right fit by now, the man knows if he’s gone or not. He’s also going to keep his options open unless something wild happens. The Thunder avoided doing anything wild over the deadline because of how long the Thunder took to mold their chemistry and they weren’t in the business of jeopardizing it.
We’re going to see some teams, Phoenix, maybe Dallas, sign some guys who are buyouts to continue the tank. They’re over their real ability to help a contender but they still want to collect a paycheck (I’d lump Joe Johnson probably in this group).
Oklahoma City has the unique opportunity to have a real position open to someone, like Allen or Johnson. The two could provide the right spark. Both are well liked guys in the locker room. There are others who could be available, like a Marco Belinelli. While Belinelli is a poor defender he can get hot from three.
A real dark horse could be Brook Lopez. Steven Adams needs some relief when he goes to the bench. He’s making $22 million this season, he could be willing to take less to play on a playoff contending team. Plus, his ability to relieve Adams in key situations could prove beneficial for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City isn’t going to wow you with this selection. They’re going to play it smart. They’re going to do what they do all the time, make sound decisions. They’ve done it in the past without you realizing it. You knew Derek Fisher and Caron Butler were buyouts but you really weren’t thinking that when the Thunder signed them.
The Thunder aren’t done making moves, it may not be the move you want but something will happen.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!