Although the ‘09 NBA free agent class isn’t as stacked as in years past — not to mention the League is being more thrifty than ever due to the slumping economy — teams still have holes they want to plug, and players have moves they want to make. As the negotiation period gets underway (players can’t officially sign until July 8), we’re breaking down each team’s free agent situation…
G – Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins, Kyle Weaver, Shaun Livingston, Chucky Atkins, Robert Vaden
F – Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Desmond Mason, D.J. White, Malik Rose
C – Nenad Krstic, B.J. Mullens, Robert Swift
Mason, Swift, Rose
With the third-lowest payroll in the League, Oklahoma City not only has itself in good position to make a big move this summer, they’ve also got a lot of money to play with in 2010, when Grade-A talent becomes available. (Does Grade-A talent want to play in OKC? That’s another story.)
Whatever you think of ownership’s methods of moving the team out of Seattle, you at least have to give GM Sam Presti credit for taking a team that was one of the worst in the NBA and turning it into a promising group of young talent: Durant, Green, Westbrook and Harden are a solid core if they can keep them all in town for a few years, and they’re some experience and one impact big man away — whether it’s this year or next year — from making some real noise. Adding some firepower to the bench would help, but picking up a starting-caliber PF would allow Green to take his multi-faceted game to a reserve role, where he’d be an instant contender for Sixth Man of the Year.
With 18 players currently on the roster, OKC is likely to let all three of its free agents walk (they might re-up with Mason, an OKC native and crowd favorite) and not get too crazy in free agency while waiting for next year’s more attractive class.
PF – Paul Millsap, Lamar Odom, David Lee, Shawn Marion, Charlie Villanueva, Anderson Varejao, Birdman Andersen, Big Baby Davis (R), Brandon Bass
C – Marcin Gortat