With few avenues to sign players in the 2019 free agency period the Oklahoma City Thunder will need to look at these five bargain bin options.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in “win-now” mode.
The two stars of the team — Russell Westbrook and Paul George — are both in their athletic prime and under contract for the near future; Westbrook until 2022-23 (player option) and George until 2021-22 (player option).
Couple that with the Western Conference seemingly being more open than it has been in recent years due to the glutton of injuries to the Golden State Warriors and you can see why the window for the Thunder to strike is now. In order for Oklahoma City to capitalize on that window, however, it will need to fortify its roster, which does not appear to be easy.
After selecting Darius Bazley in the draft — a teenage wing player who most likely won’t contribute to the team next year — the Thunder are left with few tools to fill out the rest of the team. Because they are over the luxury tax line, Oklahoma City will only be able to sign free agents using the league’s veteran minimum salary and the tax payer’s Mid-Level Exception for around $5.9 million.
Due to the lack of financial flexibility, the Thunder will have to target bargain bin free agents — players that will be available for the veteran minimum salary — who, paired with a veteran team, can contribute at a high level.
With nearly 40 percent of last year’s NBA players becoming free agents this summer, there will be a decent amount of players that could fill that role, including these five veterans the Thunder should target.