With the Oklahoma City Thunder trading James Harden over the week, it has opened up the door for new possibilities with this team. They now will have much more flexibility in building a roster down the road.
Point guard Eric Maynor is actually in the same position Harden was. He is eligible for a contract extension before Oct. 31, otherwise he will become a restricted free agent.
Maynor hasn’t gotten a lot of attention over this mainly because all eyes were on Harden. But any chance of Maynor signing an extension was pretty much shot down by Thunder GM Sam Presti yesterday.
“Whether or not we will ultimately do anything with him in terms of an extension is I don’t think a reflection of his wanting to be here or our wanting to keep him in the program,” Presti told The Oklahoman. “I think it just may be better for us to see how things develop for the season. For him as well. I think he has to see that as well…I really do think he appreciates being with this organization, and that goes a long way here.”
Now is not the time to make the decision on keeping Maynor down the road. He is returning from a serious knee injury last year and although he looks fully recovered by all accounts, you just never know.
The Thunder also have insurance behind Maynor if they do have to part ways with him in second-year point guard Reggie Jackson. Jackson has shown a lot of promise and development from his rookie season and unless Maynor really breaks out this season, it seems like the organization will be willing to go with Jackson instead of Maynor beyond this season.
But with Harden out, the role of the backup point guard just became very important for the Thunder. Harden essentially played that role last season after Maynor was out, handling much of the playmaking duties and thriving in that environment.
Maynor seems to be ahead of Jackson in the depth chart as of right now and will be relied upon pretty heavily from the start this season. He will have a chance to prove to the team that he is invaluable in which case the Thunder will be able to match any offer sheet he signs next summer.
Even with Harden out of town, finances will be tight for the Thunder after this season once they start paying Serge Ibaka $12 million per year. Maynor will have to do a lot this year to convince the Thunder to pay him next summer instead of just going with the cheaper Jackson.