OKC Thunder thankful to not have any Summer 2016 contracts

Chandler Parsons, OKC Thunder (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Chandler Parsons, OKC Thunder (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Summer of 2016 will always be a dark memory for the OKC Thunder. It could have been a whole lot worse.

The recent news of the Memphis Grizzlies and Chandler Parsons agreeing to “part ways” got me thinking. How thankful are the OKC Thunder to not have any of those awful Summer 2016 contracts?

Yes, the Summer of 2016 for the OKC Thunder will be defined by losing their franchise star Kevin Durant, who signed with Golden State. All this was made possible by the NBA’s cap spike thanks to a new $24 billion television deal. For those who don’t know, the NBA wanted to have the money gradually increase on a yearly basis, but the NBA Players Association, led by LeBron James and Chris Paul, rejected the proposal. As a result, teams got an additional allowance to spend starting in the 2016 offseason. The consequences, specifically for the OKC Thunder, were devastating.

Had the NBA gotten its way with a “cap smoothing” strategy, the Warriors wouldn’t have ended up with Kevin Durant. But for the rest of the NBA, the repercussions had a different form. It led to massive overspending on free agency that still impacts teams to this day.

As a reminder, here are just some of the awful contracts that NBA teams signed during that infamous offseason. Proceed with caution

  • Parsons: four years $94 million with the Memphis Grizzlies
  • Timofey Mozgov: four years $64 million with the Los Angeles Lakers
  • Luol Deng: four years $72 million with the Los Angeles Lakers
  • Bismack Biyombo: four years $72 million with the Orlando Magic
  • Joakim Noah: four years $72 million with the New York Knicks.
  • Miles Plumlee: four years $50 million  with the Milwaukee Bucks

These six particularly stand out because all these players are no longer with their team, and in many cases, took assets like D’Angelo Russell to get off of the Mozgov contract. The Deng and Noah contracts were stretched out, which does spread out the money but forces their respective teams to continuously pay off their contracts down the road.

Even quality role players like Nic Batum ( five years $120 million) Allen Crabbe (four years $75 million) and Tyler Johnson (four years $50 million) saw absurd raises. Now, these teams have little to no financial flexibility, and new free agents are forced to take underwhelming deals.

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The point of this all is that there is an alternate universe where the Thunder sign a guy like Crabbe to try and make up for losing Kevin Durant. Sam Presti and the organization showed great restraint in not trying to over-compensate for their massive loss. I know a lot of Thunder fans were upset that Durant ruined their 4th of July by making his announcement that day, but in a way, it was beneficial that he waiting so long, most of these awful contracts had already been signed.

The Thunder have had their share of bad contracts. Enes Kanter‘s four years $70 million deal prevented the Thunder from making moves in the latter Durant years. You can even argue Steven Adams is still overpaid for his lack of offensive production. And till the day I die, I will never understand why the Thunder gave Kyle Singler $20 million guaranteed.

But the past is in the past. The Thunder, while having the second- highest payroll in the league, have a team filled with deserving players. Compare that to the league-leading Miami Heat, and its roster loaded with terrible contracts.

All in all, its great to have a front office that doesn’t overreact and panic to major moves. Just another reason to love Sam Presti.