When Kevin Martin first came to the Oklahoma City Thunder this season via the James Harden trade, it wasn’t seen as a long-term acquisition.
Martin is an expiring contract making $12.9 million this season. He wasn’t dealt at the trade deadline mostly because he has fit in so well with the Thunder this season.
Are the Thunder planning on keeping Martin past this season?
The Thunder wants to re-sign Martin this summer and have made assurances that they will do so, according to sources. However, another team could make a lucrative offer to Martin and Oklahoma City would have no choice but to let him walk for financial reasons, just as they had to part ways with James Harden because they couldn’t afford to retain him. Martin will be one of the top scorers available this summer and a strong postseason with the Thunder could increase his stock heading into free agency.
Martin would have to sacrifice quite a bit of money to stay in OKC but he has said he is willing to do so and that he wants to stay there long-term.
The Thunder are currently $1.3 million under the luxury tax threshold with their current payroll this season. The biggest change in their payroll starting next season will be Serge Ibaka going from making $2.2 million per year to $12.2 million per year.
A lot of players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins will be making about $1 million more next season as well.
The Thunder will essentially have to find a way to save $10 million to keep Martin. It feels pretty unlikely that Martin will be willing to sign a contract with the Thunder that has him making less than $3 million per year so the Thunder will have to find another way to save the money.
It seems plausible that Martin would consider signing for around $5-6 million per season but he would definitely be sacrificing money that he could get elsewhere by doing so.
It really seems like the only way the Thunder would have any chance of re-signing Martin would be by trading or amnestying Perkins, who is set to make $8.5 million next season and $9.1 million in 2014-15.
This is an idea that has been tossed around hundreds of times for the Thunder. If they are planning on keeping a core of Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka and paying them that much, keeping Perkins for that kind of money simply doesn’t make sense.
Especially when you have Nick Collison on the payroll for less than $5 million combined over the next two seasons. The Thunder may think Perkins is more valuable than Collison but he’s definitely not $6 million per year more valuable.
The Thunder will also more than likely have a lottery pick around picks 8-11 in the upcoming draft via the Toronto Raptors. There are many big men in the upcoming draft class that the Thunder might find as suitable replacements for Perkins. The Thunder have some assets too that they could use to move up in the draft to select Alex Len, Cody Zeller or Nerlens Noel.
Then there’s the idea that the Thunder are more committed to “small ball” than anything eels moving forward. Perkins just doesn’t fit into that plan. OKC would be better off letting Perkins go and keeping the likes of a Ronnie Brewer along with Martin instead and going from there.
A lot can happen between now and this summer and the Thunder may become less interested in keeping Martin, especially at the expense of Perkins, by that time. Martin could totally flop in the postseason or the Thunder could win it all and feel like Perkins was a big reason why, although the latter seems very unlikely.