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Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson, center, shoots between Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) and guard Nick Young (0) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Oklahoma City won 110-93.

ORLANDO — The Oklahoma City Thunder and All-Defensive Second Teamer Andre Roberson have agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder wing churned out the best season of his career last year, averaging 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 30.1 minutes. Of course, his value came beyond the numbers as he turned himself into one of the NBA’s most versatile an effective perimeter defenders, guarding point guards through power forwards. 

Roberson will become the Thunder’s starting shooting guard, resuming a role he held before sliding to small forward this past season.

The Thunder have always preferred Roberson as a 2-guard wedged between Russell Westbrook and a big wing in their backcourt. They just acquired former Indiana Pacers star Paul George to fill the latter role.

Sources previously told The Transcript that Roberson turned down a four-year, $48 million extension offer back in the fall. And though he’s missing out on that deal by only $2 million a year in average annual value, he’s still accepting a dip from his original hopes. Wojnarowski noted that Roberson preferred a three-year deal to a four-year one this time around. 

Roberson’s value dropping was in line with the summer's shrinking market for restricted free agents. Without nearly as much total cap space around the NBA this summer as there was in 2016, room was closing. And Roberson jumped at an opportunity to return to a situation in which he was already happy.

He and George now combine for one of the NBA’s most formidable defensive combinations on the wing, joining the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green along with few others. 

The Roberson deal also brings the Thunder past the luxury tax line. The total 2017-18 payroll is now just under $123 million. And the team still has other obligations, like signing 2017 first-round pick Terrance Ferguson, finding a backup point guard and filling the rest of the roster. The luxury tax line is $119.3 million.

The Thunder have time to get back under the tax line — teams aren’t charged for the luxury tax until the end of the season — but sources tell The Transcript they have insisted to opposing organizations that they plan on paying the tax in 2017-18. Some are skeptical, of course, since expressing to others a willingness to pay the tax is an intuitive negotiating tactic for teams trying to get under the line. 

OKC did not pay the tax this past season, but if it does pay in 2017-18, it would be the third time in four years it is a tax-paying team. 

Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the Locked on Thunder podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.

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