In an NBA offseason already filled with earth-shaking moves from the likes of LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins, it was 34-year-old journeyman point guard Raymond Felton who truly pushed his team into uncharted territory when he resigned with the Thunder for one year and $2.4 million. On the heels of Paul George’s somewhat larger new deal with the team, Felton’s contract gives OKC—if they don’t shed any salary—the priciest roster in NBA history.
Aside from George’s max deal, which works out to around $34 million/year, the Thunder are also paying $35 mil to Russell Westbrook, $27 mil to Carmelo Anthony, and $24 mil to Steven Adams. The remaining $30 million or so of that massive payroll is filled out most expensively by Andre Roberson’s $10 million/year contract, and the resigning of Jerami Grant for slightly less.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this whatsoever. Clay Bennett, primary owner of the Thunder, is obscenely wealthy and still the scummy beneficiary of the Sonics’ move to Oklahoma City, so it’s obviously a good thing if even relatively small chunks of his personal fortune get paid out to good (or mediocre) basketball men. Beyond the redistribution of wealth, it’s decently cool (and unfortunately kind of surprising) to see a team outside the very top tier of the NBA go all out to at least entertain its fans rather than blow the roster up for a tank job.
Of course, there is no way in hell that this investment ends in a championship, and even a Western Conference Finals appearance seems unlikely for basically the same team that lost to the Jazz in the opening round of the playoffs last season. But hey, it’s a lot better to have a flawed collection of big names than a roster built with the intent of losing as many games as possible. $300 million is certainly a lot to pay for a second-round loss to the Rockets (at best) in 2019, but that’s not our money, and it’s actually kind of admirable that the Thunder are going to try and stay competitive in the gauntlet of the Western Conference, rather than wait out the Warriors’ dynasty. Just don’t let Bennett get away with it when he tries to embrace The Process after Westbrook leaves.