In the last few hours, it has been reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Kenrich Williams has signed a deal to stay in Oklahoma City for the long-term.
ESPN Sources: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kenrich Williams has agreed on a four-year, $27.2 million contract extension. The deal, negotiated by @PensackSports, comes for an undrafted player who had no Division I offers out of high school.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 18, 2022
Williams staying with the Thunder has completely come out of the left-field. Kenrich had one year left on his deal and he was expected to test the market in 2023. Williams’ defense and passing has made him one of the league’s most desirable role players. He could have earned serious money next summer while joining a contending basketball team.
Williams was not expected to stay in the slightest. Good friend of the website, Clemente Almanza of The Norman Transcript published the results of a survey a few days and his survey accurately summed up the feelings of the Thunder fanbase towards Kenrich. Fans wanted Williams to stay but were resigned to the idea of Kenrich leaving for a more competitive side.
It is an incredible signing for the Thunder. Kenrich is a leader on and off the court for Oklahoma City. Williams has an on-off rating of +13.1 per 100 possessions. He has an innate ability for finding ways to impact the game without necessarily stacking the box score.
The box score does not explain Williams’ vocal, physical defense nor his decisive, direct passing. Traditional stats do not explain why Williams is so good and it is one of the reasons why Kenrich has become a bit of advanced stats darling.
It is a deal that is relatively cheap but we have to consider context in this situation. The Thunder have offered Williams four years of guaranteed money. He spent the first four years of his career on low-cost, non-guaranteed deals which is a precarious place to be. One bad month or unfortunate injury could have spelled the end of his NBA career.
Williams choosing security on a team that clearly values him as a player is not as illogical as first seems. I would also add that we have seen high-value role players extend their careers in recent years and play deep into the 30s. Andre Iguodala, PJ Tucker and Wes Matthews are still desired by contending teams even in the twilight of their careers.
There may not have been an overwhelming desire from the Williams’ camp to play on a contending team right now. He still has another ten years of basketball to play if all goes well for him. It makes a lot of sense for him to get generational wealth and then consider winning a ring later down the line.
For the Thunder, signing Williams long-term on this contract is a no-brainer. It is cheap under the current salary cap but will look to be a bargain once the cap increase kicks in for the 2023-24 season. The NBA has projected a $133m salary cap for that season which would mean that Williams’ salary would constitute around 5.11% of the total cap space.
Presti has spoken about keeping clear books for 2023-24 but an extension like this is simply too good to pass up.