There’s plenty of reason to be excited in Oklahoma City right now.
The Thunder have been perfect in their first three games of the post-Kevin Durant era while Russell Westbrook has been on the kind of tear the league has never seen before. And on Halloween, the deadline to sign players in the final year of their rookie contracts to extensions, the Thunder locked up Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo long-term.
Everyone knows what it means to lock a player up long-term. The Thunder know for sure they will have this core for a few more years now. But how does it set them up to add other pieces? Namely, Blake Griffin, an OKC-native who will be an unrestricted free agent and has been linked to the Thunder in rumors.
On one hand, securing a solid foundation for the future is certainly one thing that can help lure a big-time free agent down the road. Especially in OKC, where the Thunder haven’t had much luck signing big-name free agents, it’s essential to have an attractive roster in place to have a chance.
That would hypothetically help lure Blake and then you hope he has enough of a desire to return home and play in front of fans that will adore him. In theory, it’s nice. But the Thunder’s actions on Halloween may mean this is no longer a possibility.
The Thunder got good deals in signing Adams and Oladipo to their extensions. Both players made somewhat of a sacrifice, electing security over waiting until next summer when either could have inked a more lucrative deal. The Thunder also chose security above all else. Changes are coming to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to multiple reports. Changes that might have made things tough for the Thunder.
With Adams and Oladipo on their extensions, and cap holds projected to rise under the new CBA, the Thunder may literally have no cap space next summer. And yes, they’d more than likely need maximum cap space around $29 million or so to sign Griffin.
— Jon Hamm (@JonMHamm) October 31, 2016
Next summer is of course not here yet and things can still happen. The Thunder can find a way to get Enes Kanter’s old max salary off the books. They could try and do the same with Kyle Singler and Alex Abrines too. But now that’s starting to sound like a lot of work just to get a shot at Griffin. And that doesn’t sound like how the Thunder likes to operate.
The Thunder made their vision of the future clear yesterday. They’re surrounding Westbrook with a core of Adams, Oladipo and Kanter, not to mention those still on rookie deals like Cameron Payne and Domantas Sabonis. They’re doing what they’ve always done. General manager Sam Presti is weighing his options and making the safe, smart move.
As awesome as it sounds, Griffin returning to OKC and forming one of the most athletic duos alongside Westbrook, it’s a long shot. Presti doesn’t take those.