The Oklahoma City Thunder have an interesting decision to make when it comes to Lu Dort and his 1.9-million dollar player option. I know what you are thinking, “What? How is this interesting at all? It is obvious that the team should pick up his option!” Well, this is not clickbait, but rather explaining an unconventional option OKC has that might surprise you later this summer.
While everyone wants Luguentz Dort to return and picking up his 1.9-million dollar team option ensures he will be in Bricktown for the 2022-23 season, the two sides will still work on an extension this offseason. This will be one of many priorities during a busy offseason that includes the second NBA Draft of this rebuild process, a draft in which Sam Presti controls four picks entering draft night.
Do not let Lu Dort’s contract extension fall out of focus as you prepare for the NBA Draft because it will really begin to shape the rebuild before our eyes. Dort has been playing on a bargain contract since entering the league on a two-way deal after being an undrafted free agent. The Arizona State Product then had to sign what was basically an emergency contract prior to the NBA Bubble in Disney World to ensure he was playoff eligible. At the time, there were rules against two-way players participating in the postseason.
The pace in which the contract was put together, and the lack of sample size, factored into just how much of a steal Dort’s deal became. Especially after he popped on the national stage by giving James Harden fits in the playoffs. Now, Dort enters the final year of said contract and the rent has come due.
What should the OKC Thunder do with Lu Dort’s team option?
While picking up Lu Dort’s 1.9-million dollar team option seems like a no-brainer on the surface, Front Office insider and cap guru Keith Smith said on his podcast The Front Office show, that the OKC Thunder might decline Lu Dort’s team option.
Sure that sentence hits the ear funny, but the explanation makes a ton of sense. Declining the team option makes Dort a restricted free agent giving the Thunder the right to match any contract offer he gets on the market while also working with Dort to make a long-term extension work. It also allows Dort to see what he could get in Free Agency.
I know you are working why not just pick up the last year of this bargain deal and work to extend years onto this contract? Well, the risk in picking up this team option is since Dort went undrafted and is not on a first-round rookie scale deal if the two sides can not come to terms on an agreement the defensive star would hit unrestricted free agency in the 2023 offseason where he would be free to go to any team without OKC having the first right of refusal to match the deal other teams gave Dort.
Declining the option would let Dort see his worth, and ensure Sam Presti can hammer out a long-term deal. Smith pointed out you might even see the report of the declined deal and new contract come out mere hours apart. So, do not freak out if you see the team has declined Lu Dort’s option.