With 2019 free agency upon us, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have much money to work with. The Thunder are already over the luxury tax and are expected to pay over $40 million in fines if they don’t free up cap space. With Russell Westbrook and Paul George in their primes, Oklahoma City needs to find a way to be a championship contender fast. This summer, it is going to be very hard to do that. The Thunder have decided to not use their Mid-Level exception to sign a player, which means the only way they can sign a free agent is with a minimum dollar contract. Even with the extremely tight money issues, there are still players that can help improve the Thunder’s roster. Here are three free agents Sam Presti and the Thunder should target:
1. Darius Miller
Darius Miller might be an unfamiliar name for a lot of people. Miller is 6-foot-8, and has a very long wingspan. That is what the Thunder love to have in their players. The 29 year old appeared in 69 games this past season for the New Orleans Pelicans. Miller averaged 8.2 points on an impressive 37% 3-PT shooting in those games. With Miller in the line-up, it would stretch the floor because of his shooting ability. That would allow Russell and Paul to be able to have more room to operate the offense. On the defensive end, Miller could cause lots of trouble for the rest of the NBA with his length and athleticism. Darius Miller is still in his prime, and will continue to make improvements on his game. The long athletic wing would be a great addition for the promising Thunder squad.
2. Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore’s name has popped up on the Thunder’s radar after he posted a picture of himself at the Thunder’s practice facility. McLemore is a 6-foot-5 guard who averages 8.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in his 6 year career. He played limited time last season but shot 41% from deep on limited attempts. McLemore would bring the Thunder raw talent as he still has a lot to prove in the league. However, he has shot the ball reasonably well in the NBA as he is a 35% 3-PT shooter for his career. OKC has become a great place for players to turn around their reputation on the court. This young guard might take a minimum contract to play for the Thunder to prove he deserves more money later on in his career. If the Thunder were able to land Ben McLemore, he would bring a spark off the bench with his athleticism and raw talent.
3. Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington is a 10 year NBA veteran who has already proved himself in the league. Ellington might be willing to sign with the Thunder for very cheap this summer. In Ellington’s career, he averages 8.2 points and is a 38% 3-PT shooter. The guard would be able to knock down open three pointers from a Russell Westbrook drive and kick. That is something the Thunder need very badly. Wayne Ellington’s veteran leadership would also be a great addition to the team. Players like Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo could really learn a lot from a player like Ellington. At 31 years of age, Ellington would fit in great with the roster of the Oklahoma City Thunder.