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Ray Felton returns and OKC makes history

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Ray is back. But OKC’s roster price is starting to feel untenable.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Per Woj, the Thunder have re-signed backup Point Guard Raymond Felton.

From a pure basketball standpoint, this is an obvious move, though still a reassuring one. OKC lacked a legitimate backup point guard for years following the Reggie Jackson trade, relying on Kevin Durant to run the offense when Russ sat in 2015-16, then turning to Semaj Christon in 2016-17 (a move that went so well that Christon is already out of the league). Felton provides real stability in the minutes Russ sits, able to run an NBA offense competently, and has a penchant for helping the team recover when they go through emotional lulls. His ability to nail 3’s means he complements PG well when Russ sits, and also means he can play alongside Russ on occasion (though with suspect results). Bringing him back at the minimum was a no-brainer, but it’s still good to see OKC bring him back into the fold.

This move is more fascinating for another reason though- it officially makes OKC the first team in history to have a team payroll over $300 Million. Due to the luxury tax, even a minimum deal for Felton costs OKC millions in luxury tax payments. Sam Presti has maintained all along that ownership will pay whatever it takes to keep this core together, and maybe we should take his word for it after all OKC has done in recent days. still, OKC could save nearly $100 million dollars by stretching Carmelo Anthony. With every signing, it feels a little more likely that OKC will resort to this eventually. Stretching Melo hurts OKC’s flexibility long-term, but it still seems like ownership will eventually decide this team is too expensive to keep as is- especially with Golden State looking like even heavier favorites following the Boogie Cousins signing.

That’s a question for another day. For now, Felton is back, and OKC’s bench depth all the stronger for it.


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