The NBA and NBA Player Association have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that goes into effect on July 1st. Within this new deal, teams can sign three two-way contracts allowing players to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G-League. The OKC Thunder use the Two-Way slots better than any team in the league. This presents Sam Presti with some interesting decisions to make.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen a lot of two-way success stories, highlighted by Lu Dort and Aaron Wiggins on their current roster. This season, the Thunder ended with Jared Butler and Olivier Sarr on two-way pacts.
With the addition of a third two-way slot, the OKC Thunder have some interesting decisions this summer. Should they bring back Jared Butler and Olivier Sarr?
NBA Two-way contracts are hidden value in the league, from finding diamonds in the rough on undrafted free agency to an additional mechanism to ink late second-round picks to buy time to delay other roster decisions.
Now with three slots at Sam Presti’s disposal, the OKC Thunder can accrue more value. The question heading into the offseason rests on their current two-way options. Olivier Sarr and Jared Butler. Did either do enough to take up one of the three slots?
Sarr offered a nice change of pace for an OKC Thunder team that lacked a traditional five-man, but he does not project to have a future in the modern NBA, especially not within the style of play that the OKC Thunder are building. While he provided good spot minutes, more was needed to warrant a return.
In all reality, neither player is likely to crack an NBA rotation. Though, Jared Butler has a more straightforward pathway of the two. Butler, a former prized prospect and champion at the college ranks, saw excellent output with the Thunder’s G-League affiliate.
With the OKC Blue, Butler ranked in the 65th percentile in overall offense, including shooting 40 percent on jump shots, thriving in the pick-and-roll as a ball handler, and shooting 48 percent on spot-up attempts.
Butler has massive defects on defense, exploited for his lack of size or ability to defend the prevalent pick-and-roll offenses. This highlights why he struggles to find a role in the NBA despite being the 40th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and once thought of as a first-round prospect.
Ultimately, it is most likely that the Thunder will move on and head into the summer with a clean slate of three new two-way slots. Though of the two, Jared Butler is the one worth considering bringing back.