NBA 2021 offseason review: Oklahoma City Thunder


Hoops Rumors breaks down the 2021 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting summer free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll assess each team’s offseason moves and look at what the 2021/22 season has in store for the 30 franchises. Today we focus on Thunder of Oklahoma City.

Designation of free agents:

Note: Parts 9 and 10 offerings are not included here.

  • Mike Muscala: Two years, $ 7 million. Second year team option. Re-signed using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • Paul Watson: Two-part contract.


  • Acquired Kemba walker, the No.16 pick in the 2021 draft, and the Celtics’ or the 2025 Grizzlies (whichever is more favorable) second-round pick from the Celtics in exchange for Al horford, The brown of Moses, and either the second-round pick of Thunder, Wizards, Mavericks or Heat in 2023 (whichever is less favorable).
    • Note: If the Mavericks’ second-round picks and Heat 2023 are the two least favorable of the four, the Celtics would get the more favorable of those two picks.
    • Note: Walker was later bought out.
  • Acquired the Pistons’ 2022 first-round pick (protected in the top 16) and the Wizards 2023 first-round pick (protected in the top 14) in exchange for the draft rights of Alperen Sengun (choice n ° 16).
  • Acquired project rights from Jérémie Robinson-Earl (pick 32) of the Knicks in exchange for the draft rights of Rokas Jokubaitis (choice # 34) and draft rights to Miles McBride (choice n ° 36).
  • Acquired Derrick favors and the first-round choice of Jazz 2024 (protected among the top 10) of Jazz in exchange for the second-round choice of the Thunder, Rockets, Pacers or Heat (whichever is less favorable) and money (2 million of dollars).
    • Note: If the Jazz don’t pass their 2022 first-round pick (the top six protected) to Memphis in 2022, the first-round pick they send to the Thunder will be pushed back until at least 2025.

Draft picks:

  • 1-6: Josh Giddey
    • Signed rookie-wide contract (four years, $ 27,214,807).
  • 1-18: Tre Mann
    • Signed rookie-wide contract (four years, $ 14,047,213).
  • 2-32: Jérémie Robinson-Earl
    • Signing of a contract for $ 7.89 million over four years. Third year not guaranteed. Fourth year team option. Signed using a mid-level exception for non-taxpayers.
  • 2-55: Aaron Wiggins
    • Signed to a two-way contract.

Draft and stash signatures

  • Vit Krejci (pick n ° 37; 2020 draft)
    • Signing of a four-year minimum wage contract. Second year partially guaranteed. Third year not guaranteed. Fourth year team option. Signed using a mid-level exception for non-taxpayers.

Contract extensions:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexandre: Five years, maximum salary. Projected value of $ 172,500,000. Projected value can reach $ 207,060,000 if Gilgeous-Alexander wins All-NBA honors in 2022. Includes 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2022/23.

Outgoing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hiring Nick collison as special assistant to the general manager Sam presti.

Salary ceiling situation:

  • Remained above the cap and below the tax line.
  • Wearing approx $ 78.1 million in salary.
  • $ 23 million below the salary floor.
  • Capped at $ 143 million.
  • $ 3,110,742 mid-level exception for non-taxpayers still available ($ 6,425,258 used on Mike Muscala, Jérémie Robinson-Earl, and Vit Krejci).
  • Full semi-annual exception ($ 3,732,000) still available.
  • Two traded player exceptions available, including one worth $ 12.8 million.

The Tonnerre offseason:

Two years after initially launching their reconstruction by exchanging Paul Georges and Russell westbrook, and one year after sending Chris Paul in Phoenix, the Thunder entered the 2021 offseason unhurriedly to speed up the process.

Armed with a ton of potential cap and a huge stash of future draft picks, Oklahoma City could have started to cash in their chips and take a big step towards discord this summer. However, the general manager Sam presti has made it clear he’s still in asset-raising mode and won’t be in a rush to push for the playoffs just yet.

The approach makes sense. The Thunder has potential future All-Star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexandre, who received a maximum salary extension from the team in August, but none of the team’s other young prospects have yet displayed that kind of advantage. Oklahoma City will also still have cap flexibility for years to come, even after factoring in Gilgeous-Alexander’s lucrative new contract. And the team owes their 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick to Atlanta – that obligation will turn into two second rounds if OKC retains their 2022 first-round. In other words, it would be premature for the club to push all of its chips. in the center of the table so early.

That meant the Thunder were happy to host a few more pay cuts this offseason, securing additional first-round picks from Boston and Utah to face Kemba walker and Derrick favors, respectively. Oklahoma City also eschewed free agency almost entirely – its only non-two-way signing was an inexpensive, short-term investment in Mike Muscala, a trusted veteran who will show leadership but won’t have much of an impact on the team’s record of wins and losses.

Given Presti’s patient approach, it was a bit of a surprise that the Thunder were willing to close a buyout with Walker soon after acquiring him from the Celtics. He appeared to be a contender to be the club’s next Paul – a star point guard who could rebuild his value after an injury-plagued season and could possibly be returned for another bad contract and draft pick.

Still, the decision to close a buyout earlier was justifiable for several reasons: Walker was willing to forgo a significant chunk of his salary (roughly $ 20 million over two years); the franchise wanted to show that it treats its veteran players well; and Kemba may have compromised the quest for another top-five pick by making the team a little too competitive.

Conversely, the decision to swap this year’s 16th overall selection for two future heavily protected picks was a perfect example of the Thunder’s willingness to play the long game. Rather than selecting a promising big man Alperen Sengun, Oklahoma City accepted a first round from the Pistons which may not pass for several years (he is protected in the top-16 in 2022, then in the top-18 protected in 2023 and 2024 before becoming protected in the top-13 in 2025), as well as a lottery-protected The Wizards 2023 first round is also at least two years away from turning into something concrete.

It’s entirely possible – perhaps likely – that Sengun would be a better pro than the two players ultimately selected with these future picks, but for a Thunder team focused on asset accumulation, the deal made sense. Turning a first round into two helps ensure that OKC’s future asset stack will be fully stocked when the team eventually wants to cash them out. It is not yet the time.

The Thunder used their No.6 pick to select Josh Giddey, an intriguing young playmaker who came off the board a few spots earlier than expected. The fact that Oklahoma City was unwilling to buy more assets by trading a bit and hoping Giddey was still available reflects how much the team loves him.

It’s still too early to know what Oklahoma City has at Giddey, but he showed his real advantage in his third career game on Sunday when he filled the box with 19 points, eight rebounds, seven assists. decisive and four interceptions. The Thunder are going to lose a lot this season, but it will be at least entertaining to watch Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander play together in the backcourt and imagine what they might look like two or three years from now.

Tre Mann, Jérémie Robinson-Earl, and choice 2020 Vit Krejci are among the Thunder’s newly added recruits. The Robinson-Earl selection was a sign the organization is ready to consolidate its assets in order to land a player it loves – OKC gave up the 34th and 36th picks to drop just two spots to No.32 to hang Robinson -Earl. We can probably expect more movement in this direction in the years to come, since the Thunder control manner too many future choices to use them all realistically.

The Thunder season:

The Thunder are off to a 0-4 start this season, which puts them last among 30 NBA teams. It’s probably safe to assume that they’ll stay there – or close enough – for most of the season. They just aren’t a team designed to win right now, and the front office will be happy to rack up the losses and get a high lottery pick in the 2022 draft while they assess their young talents and get started. determine which players are the goalkeepers.

The most pressing question at Oklahoma City this season isn’t how the team will perform on the pitch – it’s what moves will be made. The Thunder remain well below the salary floor for the 2021/22 championship year, which means they will almost certainly be looking to take on more unwanted contracts in mid-season trade. There should be a handful of clubs looking to break out of luxury tax territory or lower their tax bill, and the Thunder are well positioned to help more than one of them, providing a few more draft picks for their cooperation.

The Thunder’s extreme approach to asset gathering may seem like overkill, but the more ammo stocks Presti has, the more leeway he will have to take big swings on the road when the club finally pivot to the playoffs.

Salary Information Basketball initiates and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.