clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Grantland - OKC Thunderball

Examining the tricky financial future in Oklahoma City and the inescapable legacy of the James Harden trade.


Zach Lowe has a great piece up over at Grantland chronicling the mess that is the finances of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Can't say I feel bad for them. At all. And if it goes down in flames I (among many) are going to laugh all the way. David Stern and Clay Bennett made their bed, now it is time to lay in it. If I had a maniacal villain laugh, I'd insert it here.

To whet your appetite:

Every dollar matters to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Which is why they've been in the news over the last 10 days for money-related tidbits that barely registered with casual fans - especially with the Lakers prepping for a 2014 free agent spending spree, and the Nets on course for a potential repeater tax payment the league hoped it would never see. The two little cap-related revelations barely amount to $3.2 million annually, the equivalent of Mirza Teletovic's salary, but they say a lot about the state of the Thunder - where they are, where they've been, and what must happen for them to reassert their ownership of a Western Conference in which seemingly everyone but Oklahoma City has gotten better.

The two tidbits:

• The Thunder will pay Andre Roberson, the 26th pick in the draft, only 80 percent of his rookie scale amount, an alleged cheapskate move that will save them about $185,000 this season - at least when compared with the full scale amount.

• The league's Board of Governors, in a bizarre and controversial turnaround, voted in Las Vegas during Summer League to repay the Thunder part of the difference between what Kevin Durant would have earned under the old collective bargaining agreement and what he actually earns now. Durant signed his five-year maximum extension under the old CBA, but it didn't take effect until after the unbearable lockout. In one of many bits of chaotic last-minute wrangling, the players' union, with help from several agents, convinced the league that Durant should receive the "new" max salary instead of the older (lower) one, per several sources familiar with the process. Those sources disagree over whether the Thunder mounted a protest at the time, but some say the Thunder did so very quickly and have continued agitating since. The difference amounts to about $3 million per season, or about $15 million over the life of Durant's megadeal. The league is repaying a portion of that $15 million, a signal that at least a majority of team owners - and perhaps the league office - agree they screwed the Thunder on that magical Thanksgiving weekend in which the lockout ended and basketball began again.

Click through and give the article a read and let us know what you think.