The Oklahoma City Thunder thought at one point like they would have a perennial Sixth Man of the Year Award winner on their roster for the next decade.
Remember when we actually envisioned James Harden might stay with the Thunder, continue to embrace his role coming off the bench and win multiple championships with this team?
That obviously didn’t happen and when Harden left last year, replacing him in the Sixth Man role was Kevin Martin, who overall did a pretty good job. Martin wasn’t Harden by any stretch but averaging 14.0 points per game and shooting 42.6 percent from behind the three-point line was still a solid season.
Martin was in the last year of his contract this season making over $12 million. The Thunder have a decision to make on whether or not to re-sign him this season. How much do you want to pay a Sixth Man putting up the kind of numbers Martin did?
Making matters more interesting is the emergence of Reggie Jackson this season and in the playoffs. Those who watched the Thunder closely all year, saw Jackson progress all season and look like a completely different player than he was as a rookie, in terms of confidence and everything else.
In the playoffs after Russell Westbrook got injured, Jackson stepped into the starting role and averaged 15.3 points, 3.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 36.2 minutes per game while also shooting 47.2 percent from the field.
As crazy as it may sound, Jackson actually resembled Harden at moments this season. They both are very adept at getting to the rim (with the eurostep) and finishing. The Thunder ran some of the same exact sets that they did for Harden with Jackson this season. Jackson was a monster in transition just like Harden too.
Jackson’s play looks to really be on the rise and the idea that he could fill the Sixth Man role may make the Thunder think less about re-signing Martin.
Martin would really need to take a severe pay cut to remain with the Thunder. OKC can probably only realistically offer him $5-6 million per year and they may not even want to pay him that much.
There’s also the Jeremy Lamb factor. He hardly played this season but was very good in the D-League. If he improves similarly to how Jackson did after his rookie season, then the Thunder may have another solid player for their rotation to make Martin even more useless.
The Thunder will have a lottery pick in the upcoming draft too. There may be some wing players available like Victor Oladipo or C.J. McCollum that the Thunder could pick to help replace Martin too.
What we’re going to see with the Thunder next season will likely be a team with two of its players in the playoff rotation this year gone. Derek Fisher and Martin will probably not be on the team. So who will replace them? Lamb seems the most likely then maybe Perry Jones, III as well.
The Thunder have a lot of options coming up this summer and we will get a better idea of what Thunder team will be taking the floor next season soon.