OKC Thunder in the news: Roberson, Adams are steals in comparison to 2016 albatross deals


The OKC Thunder may be the smallest market in the NBA, but are on the precipice of becoming the first $300 million team.

As Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder brain trust navigate the offseason they do so with the prospect of becoming the first $300 million franchise in league history. Incredible as that may sound for such a small market thus is the new era of the NBA.

Obviously the goal will be to shed certain contracts (Carmelo Anthony) while remaining competitive. Yet, there isn’t much hope the 2018-19 iteration of the OKC Thunder will be able to avoid the luxury tax which is where the biggest hit will come from.

Looking back at when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was solidified it’s interesting there wasn’t more discussion surrounding how it would affect NBA salaries. In particular, players not considered the primary stars of their teams. Recalling the 2016 summer of free agency copious mid level (and lower) players got paid (and then some).

Diving in deeper, a look at two young stars on the OKC Thunder received what some considered unreasonable contracts. In closer comparison however, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams could more realistically be considered a steal and a deal by Sam Presti.

The hit list:

Timofey Mozgov – 4 years, $64 million (M):

By far, the most egregious contract of free agency 2016. The Lakers managed to dump him to the Nets where he rarely gets on the court. With two seasons remaining on his deal it’s also unlikely the Nets will have any bidders looking to take on his contract until the 2019-20 season. In 31 games this season Mozgov averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds – ouch!

Luol Deng– 4 years, $72M:

This particular instance is unfortunate. At one time Deng was the most consistent and reliable player on Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls. One spinal tap and improperly handled illness later and he’s never quite been the same.

Still, he managed two decent seasons in Miami as a two-way contributor. Of all the players on the list of overpaids, at least Deng warranted the consideration for the overpay. And, in hindsight he was added to the Lakers roster to play a mentorship role – mind you an extremely expensive one.

Ryan Anderson – 4 years, $80M:

Yes, the same Anderson the Rockets have nailed to the bench in the Western Conference Finals.  Anderson is the typical stretch four (on one end of the court), but the fact he can only catch flies on defense makes him one of the worst overpays from the summer of 2016.

Allen Crabbe – 4 years, $75M:

Sean Marks showed off his savvy by initiating the offer which the Blazers shockingly matched. Crabbe is a streaky shooter with questionable defense. At least he’s young with the potential for growth. And, Marks ended up getting his man in the end via a trade, so he put his money where his offer was.

Evan Turner – 4 years, $70M:

The Blazers, like the Lakers overpaid on a few free agents in 2016. Crabbe’s contract was more in response to the offer the Nets made, but in Turner’s case this was all on Portland. He was expected to provide defense, become the third scoring option and provide more ball handling. In hindsight he never truly fit and his contract is almost impossible to move.

Bismack Biyombo – 4 years, $72M:

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One good playoff round led to the very likeable defender getting paid. Biyombo has yet to be able to overcome his offensive limitations to warrant the contract. As a side note, I wonder if Dwane Casey will end up in Orlando reuniting with Jeff Weltman and a couple of his former players (Biyombo and Terrence Ross). Feels like a good fit, and at least Casey knows how to utilize the center to his best abilities..

Joakim Noah – 4 years, $72M:

I mean he’s not playing, had surgery which will keep him off the court for a good portion of next season and even then who knows if David Fizdale will be able to coax a similar Bulls-like level out of the once great center, or if the clubs mandated exile of Noah will continue.

Kent Bazemore – 4 years, $70M:

Potential to be a solid two way player, yet this felt like an overreach on a player ideally suited as a sixth man or fourth option. And, now he’s likely destined to be the secondary option on a lottery squad for the foreseeable future.

The winner (loser) is:

Despite all the above albatross negotiations by far the deal which brought Chandler Parsons to the Memphis Grizzlies was the worst. Parsons signed a four year, $94.8 million deal.

In his two seasons since inking the contract he’s played in a total of 70 games. His production is worse than his rookie season. Specifically, he’s averaged 6.2 and 7.9 points the past two years. And, on a team in need of ball handling to help Mike Conley his assists have also been cut in half.

Although the Grizzlies suffered through an onslaught of injuries and reformulating the roster, Parsons arguably was the first domino to tip the balance.

OKC Thunder Roberson and Adams Contracts:

When you compare some of the players on the OKC Thunder to these above 2016 offerings it’s an easier pill to swallow. And, let’s be honest there isn’t one player above who could make an All-NBA defensive team like Andre Roberson. Nor would any of the list register in the same vicinity as Steven Adams in terms of ability, ceiling or contributions.

To that end, Roberson is just 26, so the thinking is he’ll return and be able to contribute at the same level as he did pre-injury. Roberson’s $30 million deal is a virtual steal in comparison to the above overpays.

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As for Steven Adams, his 4 year $100M extension may seem extreme, but when put in comparison with his counterparts is more than fair. Plus the New Zealand center hasn’t reached his 25th birthday yet, so his prime years are ahead of him.

The 4-year deal increases each season with 2018-19 just over $24M and the following two seasons being $25.8 and $27.5M. For some this may seem extreme. Yet, all it took was witnessing the OKC Thunder play without him to recognize just how valuable the center is. Moreover, his offensive toolbox has yet to be fully unlocked.

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Moving forward, Sam Presti has some major salary pylons to navigate, but it’s hard to criticize the squads two best youthful defenders being anything but wise decisions.