By Randy Renner
NBA free agency hit Oklahoma at 10:59 last night and by that time the Thunder had already secured sit down meetings with their two restricted free agents center Enes Kanter and small forward Kyle Singler.
Right now those are the only guys on the Thunder's radar, if they can get them signed that's pretty much that. If not, Plan B goes into effect.
The Thunder should have an excellent shot at keeping Kanter and maybe Singler too but economics could come into play more with Singler than with Kanter.
The Thunder have scheduled a meeting with Kanter for this afternoon (first reported by RealGM) at Kanter's agent's office in Chicago. The team is believed to have put together three and four year deals, that with incentives, would put Kanter at or very near max money. For him that number is almost $16 million per season, depending upon exactly where the upcoming season's salary cap settles.
Kanter was not happy in Utah and pushed for a trade last season. After being dealt to the Thunder Kanter became an offensive force, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds a game, but also a defensive liability unable to defend the pick and roll, especially without help from Serge Ibaka who missed the last weeks of the regular season with a knee injury.
Kanter is the first center the Thunder have had who poses a legitimate offensive threat that opponents have to pay attention to and he and superstar point guard Russell Westbrook developed an outstanding two-man game almost immediately. The Thunder and the other teams interested in Kanter believe his defense can improve with the right coaching and they're willing to gamble on that because of his scoring and rebounding ability.
Since Kanter is a restricted free agent the Thunder will be able to match any offer he receives and the Mavericks and Trail Blazers and perhaps others are interested in talking with him too.
The Thunder hope to avoid those talks by getting Kanter to agree to OKC's deal and that may very well happen.
Many times last season Kanter talked about how comfortable he was with the Thunder organization and his new teammates almost a direct opposite from what he faced in Utah. The uncertainty of what moving to another might entail might be enough for Kanter to want to stay in Oklahoma City without exploring other options.
He's going to get a huge raise regardless, about $10 million more than he made last season.
Singler will at least triple his salary. He only made a little more than $1 million last season and the Thunder are believed to be offering a three or four year deal that average about $3 million per season. Singler is also being pursued by other teams, the Atlanta Hawks and the San Antonio Spurs are interested in talking with him, and that interest could drive his price up into the $5 to $6 million range an area where the Thunder would prefer not to go.
OKC is still trying to work deals that for Steve Novak, who is owed $3.75 million this coming season and Perry Jones, who is scheduled to make $2 million.
Tuesday the Thunder cleared some salary and opened up a roster spot by dealing Luke Ridnour and his $2.75 million contract to Toronto for Euro player Tomislav Zubcic and a $2.85 million trade exception.