The Oklahoma City Thunder is currently experiencing a roster crunch that will likely not be resolved until the start of the 2022-23 regular season.
The team currently has 20 players, which is three over the limit for an NBA roster. The NBA allows 15 full-time players and two two-way players that can appear in 50 games each.
The Thunder were able to trim the roster after waiving JaMychal Green and Isaiah Roby. But even with their departures, the team will still need to get rid of three additional players.
Let’s look at five players on the roster bubble that could be candidates for the Thunder to trade, cut or waive using the stretch provision.
This one will come down to money and how much dead cap ownership is willing to take on for next season. The Thunder already has $34 million in dead cap next season with the team still paying salaries to Kemba Walker, Kyle Singler and Green. Adding another $10.2 million – or an amount close to that depending if Favors is willing to give some of it back to be a free agent – is a tough ask to ownership.
While the team could theoretically trade Favors, the trade market is extremely dry. Favors had a down season last year and his salary makes him even less of an attractive option as a veteran backup big.
Maledon disappointed in his sophomore season after a solid rookie campaign. The Thunder also have several other young guards with higher ceilings, making Maledon an expendable player.
However, Maledon is still a young player at 21 years old and his $1.9 million for next season is already guaranteed.
A trade market is probably not there for Maledon and if there is one, the Thunder likely wouldn’t get much in return. If that’s the case, it’s worth more it to the Thunder to keep Maledon and give him one more season to prove his value.
The Thunder drafted Krejci with the hopes of him regaining his athleticism before he tore his ACL in September 2020. In two seasons since then, Krejci hasn’t really shown that and is still recovering from the knee procedure as he underwent a scoped knee surgery in April.
Krejci had a solid, albeit quiet, summer league that saw him be the only Thunder player with NBA experience to play in the final game, which could foreshadow what the team thinks of him and where he is on the totem pole.
With only $782,000 of Krejci’s $1.8 million contract guaranteed until Jan. 10, he is one of the easier players to move.
Jerome is an interesting case study.
He’s shown to be a steady bench guard when healthy during his three seasons in the league. But he’s owed $4.2 million and hasn’t shown much potential past being a third-string guard on the roster. He’ll also be up for an extension soon.
Jerome is a solid three-point shooting guard but at 25 years old, he’s probably hit his ceiling as a decent bench guard. The Thunder have plenty of younger mouths to feed that have higher ceilings.
Out of the five players listed, Jerome is the easiest to trade as a solid guard who can shoot from outside with a year left on his rookie scale deal, and he should garner a market. It’ll all come down to whether or not an NBA team thinks it’s worth giving him an extension or paying him a qualifying offer next season.
The Thunder surprisingly added Omoruyi with one of its two-way roster spots. While he had a decent summer league, the decision to add a 25-year-old undrafted player to one of the two two-way spots with such a young team is still an odd one.
Nonetheless, moving on from Omoruyi would be easy to move. The Thunder recycled through the second two-way spot in the final weeks of last season, so moving on from two-way players is typically easy with no long-term repercussions.