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Oklahoma City Thunder rescinds Dion Waiters' qualifying offer, Waiters will become unrestricted free agent (Update)

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The Thunder have given themselves more financial room to try and keep Westbrook, but it may come at the cost of losing Waiters.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

(Update1: Comments from The Vertical added below)


As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have rescinded Dion Waiters' qualifying offer for the 2016-2017 season.

This move by OKC allows Waiters to become an unrestricted free agent. It is important to note, however, that the Thunder still holds Waiters' Bird Rights, as they rescinded the qualifying offer before the cutoff date of July 23. This means that, theoretically, OKC can still re-sign Waiters even if it pushes them over the salary cap.

This decision was likely made for financial flexibility. If Sam Presti can convince Russell Westbrook to sign a contract extension, he can renounce Waiters (or attempt to orchestrate a sign-and-trade deal) to clear up the cap space required for the extension. If Westbrook will not extend, Presti still has the option to re-sign Dion. However, by rescinding the qualifying offer, Dion cannot accept an offer from OKC until Presti is certain it won't affect efforts to extend Westbrook.

With the Thunder trading for Victor Oladipo and signing Barcelona guard/forward Alex Abrines, many assumed Dion Waiters was not part of the Thunder's future. This move makes that even more likely, though not for certain.

Dion Waiters joined the Thunder during the 2014-2015 season via a trade with Cleveland in return for Lance Thomas and a first round pick.


From The Vertical, Woj adds:

For Westbrook, the most likely scenario for a renegotiation would be to use the Thunder's cap space to guarantee he will stay under contract with the Thunder through the 2017-18 season. This would give Oklahoma City the chance to recruit one of its top targets - 2017 free agent and Oklahoma native Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers - to partner with Westbrook, league sources said.

The Houston Rockets recently completed a similar renegotiation with All-Star guard James Harden.

Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, have been in regular contact with Thunder general manager Sam Presti since Kevin Durant's departure on July 4, but Westbrook has yet to make a commitment to renegotiate his contract and forgo free agency in 2017, league sources said.

Nevertheless, Westbrook is a proponent of the young talent on the Thunder roster and is eager to lead the team in the 2016-17 season, sources said. So far, league sources said, teams that have reached out to the Thunder about trading for Westbrook have been told that he isn't available.