When we say NBA rookies are on a “rookie scale contract” what really is going on is there is a salary level set for said player (amount based upon draft pick), and teams can offer between 80 percent and 120 percent of that number. Around the league, it’s a pretty standard for teams to give the rookie the 120 percent figure.
But the Thunder’s first round pick Andre Roberson was offered only 80 percent of the suggested salary.
So despite recent maneuvers that would suggest otherwise, Thunder management isn’t opposed to dipping into the tax. They’re just concerned about avoiding it this year.
Because starting next season and for the foreseeable future, with the escalating contracts of its star players, OKC is all but guaranteed to violate that threshold.
It’s not the tax money this year, it’s about the repeater tax (for teams consistently over the tax line, three of four years). For the Thunder three years from now, not being a repeater could save them $4 million off their tax bill. The Thunder are still a small market team trying to control their costs.
If you’re looking for the most obvious example of the Thunder’s cost cutting, there was the James Harden trade. That was all about saving money, particularly going into the long term when the small market Thunder couldn’t pay max deals to three guys,
Sucks a little for Roberson, though.