Thunder Payroll Edging Up Toward $130 Million

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

The national media loves to slam Thunder ownership for being "cheap" but the ownership group has not shied away from going into the luxury tax when the team has a chance to make a long playoff run.

That appears to be the case again after GM Sam Presti brought in 4-time All-Star Paul George to be Russell Westbrook's new running mate.

Free agent deals quickly followed with Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton signing on and restricted free agent Andre Roberson agreeing to re-up with OKC for 3 years and $30 million.

We also heard on Friday 15-year veteran Nick Collison would be returning, agreeing to a 1-year deal likely for the veterans' minimum which in Collison's case would be about $2.3 million.

Add all that up, plus the contracts already in place, and the Thunder are looking at a payroll for the 2017-18 season of about $127.9 million.

The team still has some work to do, needing to get a contract signed with 1st round draft pick Terrance Ferguson which will come in around $1.5 million (give or take a couple hundred thousand bucks).

That deal would run the team total up to $129.4 million or about $10 million over the luxury tax line and $30 million above the salary cap.

The tax remember won't be officially calculated unto the end of the regular season and things could change drastically be then.

They're sure to change a little in the next several weeks.

The Thunder and backup point guard Semaj Christon have agreed to push the deadline for guaranteeing his $1.3 million salary for this coming season into training camp.

And there is a chance the team could waive small forward Kyle Singler and then stretch the approximately $9.5 million he's owed over 7 years, reducing the salary cap hit to much more manageable numbers. The deadline to do that is August 31st.

If Singler happens to be included in a trade the numbers would be reduced even more.

The Thunder also have the chance to name a couple of 2-way players, guys who can go back and forth between the OKC Blue of the NBA's G-League and the Thunder while not being included on the official 15-man Thunder roster.

Players chosen for this can't spend more than 45 days with the NBA team (or they will have to be signed to an NBA contract).

One candidate the Thunder are almost surely considering for this is center Dakari Johnson. He's played well in Summer League the last two summers and made the then D-League All-Star team last season.

So there are still a lot of potential moves on the table.





Randy RennerComment