OKC Thunder bring back a trusted wing ahead of the 2023-24 season

Head coach Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Head coach Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

As the OKC Thunder prepare for the 2023-24 season, they shuffled around some roster pieces on Friday. The Thunder waived TyTy Washington to bring their current roster size down to 20 before immediately getting back up to the 21-player max by bringing in Lindy Waters III on a two-way pact.

Despite still having 21 names on the roster right now, this move did clean the books up a bit. The OKC Thunder were simultaneously at the roster limit with two open two-way spots. Lindy Waters III slides into one of those available two-way slots and joins rookie forward Keyontae Johnson on a two-way pact. TyTy Washington’s departure brings the markdown from five to four standard contracts the OKC Thunder have to waive by the season opener despite still bringing 21 players into training camp.

The OKC Thunder bring in a trusted wing on a two-way pact; how will Mark Daigneault handle this rotation?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are familiar with Lindy Waters III. The Norman native played college ball up the road in Stillwater for Oklahoma State University. After some time in the local pro-am circuit, Waters III cracked the G-League with the OKC Blue on a tryout, eventually working his way to a two-way pact in 2021-22. Waters III inked a second two-way deal to start the 2022-23 season before eventually being converted to a standard contract to close out last season.

Sam Presti declined the team option on Waters III this summer, making him a free agent at the end of June. Instead of bringing him in on his standard pact, the Thunder will now have Lindy Waters III back on a two-way deal. Under the new CBA, teams now get three two-way contract slots to go along with their 15 standard slots, so shuffling Waters III back to a two-way spot just makes life easier on the roster crunch logistically.

While some will dismiss this move as “just a two-way signing,” this specific transaction means much more. Lindy Waters III has garnered a lot of trust from OKC Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault.

The Oklahoma City Thunder already own a crowded rotation that is nearly impossible to predict. With Daigneault’s willingness to go deep into this Rolodex of players, the Thunder will still play 10-12 players a night. However, that still excludes many names OKC Thunder fans are excited about.

With Lindy Waters III’s improving defense, it saw him earn more minutes as the season went on, logging 274 minutes in 18 appearances post the All-Star break a season ago, including being subbed into each of the Thunder’s play-in games back in April.

It is clear the OKC Thunder do not treat Lindy Waters III as just another two-way player, however, it should be harder to gain minutes this season unless Mark Daigneault sides with trust and comfortability during the course of games. The good news for Thunder fans is to this point in Daigneault’s career, he has been all about roster exploration, willing to give all 17, now 18, guys a short leash to find the right combination on any given night.

The biggest concern will be if Lindy Waters III gets too many chances ahead of a player like Aaron Wiggins, who has proven to make a more winning impact at the NBA level. The only other concern would be his shooting; while many think of Waters III as this incredible sharpshooter, he has never been better than 36 percent from beyond the arc with a lot of untimely misses. To stick in the NBA, Waters III must take a leap shooting the ball, which he can obviously do.

Lindy Waters III is an incredibly valuable resource for the OKC Blue, who could still need important names like Ousmane Dieng, Cason Wallace, and obviously Keyontae Johnson shuffle down to the Blue. Having Waters III leadership and production on Kameron Wood’s squad will make evaluating and developing these prospects a lot easier.

The hometown hero is back with the OKC Thunder organization; he is one of the most fun players for local fans to follow and to cover. Including when asking him why he ditched his headband midway through the season last year.

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