The OKC Thunder have a puzzling piece at the center position

Latvia's Davis Bertans (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Latvia's Davis Bertans (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Latvia’s Davis Bertans (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images) /

The many hurdles with Davis Bertans’ Bricktown playing time

Still, with such a valuable shooting skillset, it netted Davis Bertans a massive contract that made him an unwanted commodity in Dallas who paid to get off of the remainder of his deal. While Bertans is owed 17 million dollars this season (the second-highest mark on the Thunder) and is projected to earn 15 million dollars in the 2024-25 season, there is a saving grace for Oklahoma City.

If Davis Bertans plays under 75 percent of the Thunder’s games this year, the team can waive him for just a five-million-dollar cap hit at the end of the season. It is safe to say the Bricktown boys will not let Bertans play over 75 percent of their contests this season.

Which begins the tricky conversation around the Latvian sharpshooter. He costs too much money to cut out right; one would assume he can not be a fixture of Mark Daigneault’s rotation due to his contract limitations, and he does not seem to have the attitude to tolerate a Mike Muscala-like role that features periodic did not play coaches decision stretches.

Unless Bertans is willing to accept that spotty role, OKC is left with keeping him home or moving on. That spotty role would pay dividends for the Thunder organization to make them better and help knock off certain matchups, but does it gain Bertans anything?

The only thing it could do is improve Davis Bertans image for other contenders so that they can bring him in as a low-minute weapon that knocks down triples in a timely matter that can change the course of games. Is that enough to convince Bertans to buy in? The OKC Thunder have swayed a buy-in from more challenging situations, which is within the realm of possibility.

Even with a buy-in factor from Davis Bertans, to what end? While shipping him out at the deadline is an option, is there a team that would be willing to play him over that 75 percent of games mark? That seems unlikely.

Davis Bertans’ floor spacing, thanks to his three-point shooting, presenting a drive and kick threat, pick-and-pop option, and the pressure he puts on the rim as a roller shooting 75 percent at the cup, makes him a compelling piece for Mark Daigneault’s offense.

Bertans shot 38 percent on catch-and-shoot looks, 48 percent on spot-up chances, and 44 percent coming off screens. He is a career 39 percent three-point shooter, hitting that mark a season ago. While his defense leaves plenty to be desired, he could provide value for the OKC Thunder.

The only thing holding him back is the contract stipulations. From the long-term future perspective, it makes more sense for the Thunder to be cautious with his playing time for the sake of his cap hit than improving their 14th-man spot in the rotation.