Saturday 04th February 2023,
The Hoop Doctors

Thunder Interested in Signing Rudy Gay…and Blake Griffin Bugaboo Isn’t Going Away

Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s proximity to the luxury tax won’t stop them from trying to make moves in free agency.

First up, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is Rudy Gay:

Gay and the Thunder have been linked before, prior to his Achilles injury. His development as a spot-up shooter makes him an interesting fit next to Russell Westbrook, and he gives Oklahoma City another shot creator should Billy Donovan be hell-bent on not staggering Victor Oladipo’s minutes with those of Westbrook.

Cost, however, figures to be an issue. The Thunder, at most, will have the full mid-level exception (valued at roughly $8.4 million), to work with. It’s unclear if that, or the taxpayer’s mid-level ($5.2 million), would be enough to put them in the running.

Speaking of free-agent targets potentially out of Oklahoma City’s price range, ESPN.com’s Royce Young reminded us the Blake Griff-Thunder bugaboo isn’t going anywhere now that Chris Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets:

This pursuit is going to be tough. The Thunder need $29.7 million to pay Griffin his max salary next season. As of now, if they carry cap holds for Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson, they’re close to $35 million over the $99 million salary cap.

A sign-and-trade for Griffin is possible, but very unlikely. The Thunder cannot be $4 million over the luxury-tax threshold after that transaction ($119 million + $4 million = $123 million), so they would have to shed about $10 million in salary before or as part of that deal. Renouncing Gibson’s free-agent hold helps, and they can use Oladipo to anchor an offer. But you still have to worry about paying Roberson while not crossing that $123 million line, something that’ll be impossibly hard to do while you have $70-plus million invested in Griffin, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.

Effectively, then, Griffin will cost the Thunder at least Oladipo and a Kanter salary dump, plus perhaps some other picks and cap fodder. So it’s more than safe to say they’re better off focusing on Gay.

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