The Oklahoma City Thunder have an overflowing roster. It is as if Sam Presti was pouring a tall glass of Pepsi over ice while talking on the phone and completely forgot about the fizzy overflow. Now that is a sticky situation. However, this is not. The OKC Thunder always carry the maximum amount of players into training camp, and with the new CBA allowing 21 players instead of 20, that is not changing this summer either.
That has led to many bad narratives around the OKC Thunder roster crunch. This week, the Thunder waived Rudy Gay to make room on the roster for Jack White, a two-week-old reported signee.
The OKC Thunder are in the midst of a roster crunch that is creating faulty narratives around the team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder roster the following players:
- Josh Giddey
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Lu Dort
- Jalen Williams
- Chet Holmgren
- Cason Wallace
- Kenrich Williams
- Vasilije Micic
- Isaiah Joe
- Jaylin Williams
- Aaron Wiggins
- Ousmane Dieng
- Aleksej Pokusevski
- Tre Mann
- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
- Davis Bertans
- Victor Oladipo
- Jack White
- TyTy Washington
- Usmane Garuba
- Keyontae Johnson
While that is a lengthy list, it is not some indictment on the OKC Thunder rebuild, and it especially is not case for the “This is the problem with having too many picks.” It is impossible to have too many picks. Do you think if we walked up to Bill Gates and said, “Hey Bill, here is a million dollars,” he would say no? You can never have too much money. In the NBA, that is all draft picks are, they are asset currency. You would much rather have whatever problems come with “too much money” than not enough. Especially when building a team in a small market with the slimmest margin for error.
I talked to two different teams this morning, and both independently mentioned that they are monitoring the Thunder and what happens with the roster.
One exec told me, “Some good players are going to get cut from OKC, and we all need to be ready to jump when that happens.”
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 19, 2023
This is, frankly, a wild opinion that Keith has shared on his excellent show, the Front Office show, many times. Now, he has executives on record saying they are “monitoring” the OKC Thunder roster…which is true! That is the job of executives. However, I refer you to that roster list, the names that are on the chopping blocks are either names that OKC was paid to take on (Victor Oladipo, TyTy Washington, Usmane Garuba, the already cut and not yet signed Rudy Gay, and Davis Bertans) Though, it seems likely Bertans will remain in Bricktown. The other names on the chopping block are Tre Mann and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a first and second-round pick that have yet to pan out. Then, you have Jack White, who the Thunder inked in free agency to one of the most minor financial commitments you can make in the NBA. Which of these players are cuts that are a bad thing and a travesty for having too many picks?
If anything, it shows the reason for compiling all these picks. The OKC Thunder might have missed on their 18th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Tre Mann, and in that same draft, might have doubled down, trading up in the second round to get Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who also did not pan out. Those two moves don’t even register as mistakes for Sam Presti because he has the assets to bring in players to correct those potential misses.
Someone is going to waiver claim Isaiah Roby and get a good player virtually for free.
51/44 shooting splits. Some boards, some blocks. Can score some too. Worth claiming for sure for several teams.
OKC has more tricky roster decisions coming too. Downside of a million picks.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 3, 2022
This was the same sentiment Keith Smith shared with Isaiah Roby, that NBA teams felt they could pick up a really good player that was squeezed out by the million picks the OKC Thunder compiled. Roby was swiftly picked up by one of the best organizations in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, and even on a shamelessly tanking team, Roby played 42 games to the tune of four points, two rebounds, and an assist while shooting 43 percent from the floor, 30 percent from beyond the arc, and 48 percent at the charity stripe. The Nebraska product is once again on the Free Agent market.
That is not the shot at Roby that it appears to be; it just highlights sometimes, a change of scenery does not work. Sometimes, it does! I.E., Isaiah Joe! Two Isaiahs, two different redemptive paths.
The bottom line is just because the OKC Thunder are going to get rid of players they were paid to take on that any NBA team could have had these past two weeks does not mean they have too many picks. Even if one of the players let go pops, that is just the way of life in the NBA. Do the 76ers have too many picks? They waived Isaiah Joe, and he wasn’t picked up by the OKC Thunder until days before the season, quickly becoming one of the best shooters in the league.