TEAM FREE AGENCY – STAY OR GO
General manager Sam Presti has some important decisions to make with the offseason beginning for the Thunder. The Thunder have 5 free agents on roster but the question remains, Who stays and who goes? Here are the 5 free agents on the Thunder roster.
Andre Roberson RFA
Nick Collison UFA
Taj Gibson UFA
Jerami Grant Team
Norris Cole UFA
Let us dig into our options for each player and weigh our options for each player.
Andre Roberson – Stay
Andre Roberson is a free agent this offseason. Roberson’s camp and the Thunder front office have unfortunately have been far apart on the numbers. No need to worry, Andre Roberson is a restricted free agent. What does this mean? This means that Oklahoma City can match any offers that are made to Roberson in free agency to retain him. It seems likely that Roberson will test free agency at this moment in time. However, the front office may want to secure him before free agency opens up. Now onto the important questions, Why should Andre stay?
Andre Roberson has developed significantly since being drafted a few years back. He has become arguably a top 10 defender at his position whose height and length makes him incredibly versatile on the defensive end. Roberson has also improved on his outside shooting abilities. He’s not adept from the outside but has improved his range significantly since entering the league. Andre Roberson is still very young and has not yet hit his peak. Do you know what this means? This means his shooting and defensive ability can only improve in the future. If he is able to develop a more consistent outside shot he may be able to develop into a lower tier Jimmy Butler type of player. Roberson has potential to be a solid 10-13 PPG type of guy, Combine that with his defensive ability and i’d say that he’s a valuable asset to the team and organization. Now to address the elephant in the room: FREE THROWS.
PPG : 6.6 on 46.4% Shooting, 24.5% from 3.
REB : 5.8
AST : 1.0
FT : 42.3%
Andre has been inconsistent, his numbers in almost every statistical category have fluctuated throughout his career. The one thing that has been consistent is his improvement on the defensive end as well as his offensive aggression. Although his free throw percentage is atrocious, it is still salvageable. How so? Andre shot 70% from the line his rookie year, meaning he is capable of shooting from the stripe at a much higher clip. Roberson has more upside than any other free agent on roster. The salary cap is increasing by 15 million which makes andre affordable to retain (unless Sam Presti has other plans in free agency like maybe Gordon Hayward? That’s for another post ).
Andre Roberson will likely return of of a matched offer. I’d estimate that it will be anywhere between 8-13 m annually with the way the new NBA is. Everyone gets paid.
Early prediction: Thunder Match deal 3 years 35 million.
Next man up,
Jerami Grant – Stay
There isn’t much to say about Jerami Grant, young guy on a team contract. He’s cheap and still improving. It makes sense financially to accept his team option for 1.52 million. You have to keep the young role players around to develop in the system, especially when they are cheap.
Early Prediction: Grant’s team option is exercised.
On to the next one,
Norris Cole – Go
Oklahoma City needs a backup point guard desperately. Cam payne is gone after a less than stellar tenure with the thunder and Norris Cole was brought in for his experience with the championship with Miami. Unfortunately, he hasn’t panned out. Cole doesn’t really bring much to the table when he’s in the game. There is no need for a statline here as his play speaks for itself. He will only return if there are no better options in free agency of the draft.
Early Prediction: Cole goes back to China
How about a newcomer next?
Taj Gibson – Stay
Gibson provided OKC with valuable off bench production which was hard for the Thunder to come by this past season. A solid defensive player and a scrappy rebounder, Gibson is someone the thunder should look to retain. He is an older player who has veteran experience.
PPG : 10.3 on 51%
REB : 5.8
AST : 0.9
Defense and bench production. Gibson made close to 9 million last season and with rising salary caps he may demand more to stay in OKC. He could potentially take a veteran discount to help the team push for free agents but i’d expect his value to be in the 7-12 million annual range. His age may lower his value.
Early Prediciton : Gibson Returns to OKC on 2 year 21 million deal.
( I know what your thinking, How are we going to get free agents when we are using up cap to retain players? That is a topic for a future article that involves potential paycuts and trades to make space. Do not be surprised if Enes Kanter is moved.)
Last but not least,
Nick Collison – Go
Nick has been with the franchise his entire career and will play for a veteran minimum if offered. If Sam Presti needs a player to fill the roster then bet that collison returns, especially if the Thunder have issues with cap space. He does’t play much but sserves more as a positive energy type of guy in the locker room. He may opt to retire as well.
Early Prediction : Collison returns on veteran minimum for his final season.
The Thunder must make moves this offseason if they hope to compete in the ever evolving western conference and player retention is always a key part of that as far as team chemistry is concerned. Oklahoma City must sign bench scorers and a true number 2 scorer. In addition, Victor Oladipo must step up to the plate and hit the next level.