NBA Free Agency 2018: Thunder unlikely to afford current roster

By @saihoops on
Paul George, NBA Free Agency 2018
Nov 10, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) shoots the ball defended by LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. USA TODAY Sports / Mark D. Smith

The Oklahoma City Thunder front office will be met with severe challenges next offseason. According to a new report, they are unlikely to continue with their current trajectory of an expensive roster and the luxury tax implications. 

After adding Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to a roster that already boasts two-max level players in Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams, the Thunder is scheduled to pay a luxury tax bill of approximately US$25 million (AU$32 million) for the 2017-18 NBA season. That figure is set to skyrocket further next summer. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder front office views the current "Super Team" as a one-year experiment. 

"If we're being honest with ourselves, this is a one-year run with this team. They have one chance with this team because they cannot bring back this team together next year. Even if Paul George re-signs and says 'I want to stay.' Financially, it is impossible for this team, I don't want to say remotely look the same, but the idea of Carmelo, Westbrook and George on the same roster withe Melo opting into his salary next year," Wojnarowski said on his podcast on Friday.

NBA Free Agency 2018: Thunder can't afford to keep Super Team

The 33-year-old Anthony waived his US$8.1 million (AU$10.2 million) trade kicker to accommodate a move to the Thunder. However, he owns a Player Option worth US$28 million (AU$36 million) for the 2018-18 season. Most NBA general managers expect the 10-time All-Star to opt into the final year of his contract, leaving the Thunder with little hope of retaining George, who is due to test free agency next July.

"This would be an incredible bill for the New York Knicks, the Lakers or Steve Ballmer to pay, never mind Clay Bennett in a small market like Oklahoma City," Wojnarowski, a renowned NBA insider, adds.

Prior to the season, several analysts expected the new-look Thunder team to pose a legitimate threat to the mighty Golden State Warriors. However, Billy Donovan's team has begun with a 5-7 record, and there are already talks of Thunder exploring a Paul George trade during the February deadline. Stay tuned for the latest on NBA Free Agency 2018.