The Oklahoma City Thunder have made a few free agent signings and roster moves since the season ended and it's clear that the team isn't likely to really to make any other significant moves. They signed undrafted free agent Hollis Thompson of Georgetown as a new rookie sharpshooter as the latest move after previously netting center Hasheem Thabeet as a free agent and Perry Jones III as the team's first round choice. Together, they save the team $4 million from the players they replace from last season.
Derek Fisher, Royal Ivey and Nazr Mohammed are likely finished playing for the Thunder, which means the team has been able to save a bit of cash going forward -- a good sign, perhaps, of the team trying to store away money to keep the big guns known as James Harden and Serge Ibaka on the roster. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have already received their extensions, but the others are going to become well-paid in time.
"We've got to understand there's going to be some tough challenges ahead," Presti said. "That's part of our process internally, understand the effect of that, not only on the team, but on the franchise. But what I can tell you is we're going to do everything we can to make it work. We're going to put everything toward it.
"It's also important to note, when you get into a situation with finances and pro sports, I can say here in Oklahoma City, if there's a piece of compensation that's not going to a specific person or player, that doesn't necessarily mean that's going into Mr. (Clay) Bennett's pocket. It's just going towards another player that ultimately can help us win. We've got to be able to build a team that can win year in and year out. And those are the challenges that have to be balanced. We love the group that we have and we're going to work tirelessly to make it work here."
It's not as if the new additions are purely economical savings. Thompson adds a nice three-point threat off the bench and Thabeet has the upside of a former No. 2 choice if he could ever apply the work ethic to take advantage of such size at 7-3. As for Jones, he's the wild card as a celebrated player filled with potential in college who never quite put it all together. A quick glimpse during the Orlando summer league, however, and everyone was all smiles about his pro future.
Still the Thunder have major questions going forward and have to start answering them soon with potential extensions due for Harden and Ibaka coming up in October. For now, they'll save where they can while adding what they need in the hopes of continuing toward an NBA championship.
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