According to The Athletic’s Sham Charania, the Thunder are willing to take on bad contracts in trade scenarios. The Thunder’s openness to this has caught teams by surprise, as several teams have contacted them this season discussing trades.
The Thunder are currently 5th in the league in team payroll this season, which is surprising for a team that isn’t looking to compete for a championship this season. But when you look at the player salaries on the payroll, the top 5 players are all considered as tradable assets:
Chris Paul ($38.5M)
Steven Adams ($25.8M)
Danilo Gallinari ($22.6M)
Dennis Schroder ($15.5M)
Andre Roberson ($10.7M)
After those five, the rest of the payroll is filled with rookie contracts and 1-2 year deals with movable players like Nerlens Noel and Mike Muscala. Kyle Singler and Patrick Patterson are still on the payroll, as they were stretched out and bought out, but they only combine for just $1.7M (1.3%) of the team’s payroll.
Gallinari and Roberson are both expiring deals, so moving them should be easier than the other three, especially in Gallinari’s case. The Thunder would also be 21st in the NBA next season in team payroll as their roster currently stands; they could afford to absorb bad long-term contracts of other teams if compensated for it.
The Thunder are currently $1.2M over the cap, so a small trade or cut would put the Thunder below the luxury tax — which would give them room to work with.
This news shouldn’t be surprising. Taking on bad contracts attached to draft picks and/or young players on their rookie deals is a common practice for rebuilding teams, and the Thunder are willing to take on bad contracts if the assets are worth it.
OKC could also be the third team in three team deals that need a team to make the salaries work by taking on the bad salaries of the other two teams. The Thunder will be seen as a home for big contract dumps this trade deadline, and probably into the off-season as well.