If Durant signed a multiyear contract to stay with Oklahoma City this summer, the Thunder would have little flexibility to replace either Ibaka or Westbrook via free agency if one of the two left. In conjunction with holds for restricted free agents Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, re-signing one of the two players for the expected 2017-18 maximum salary for players of their experience ($29.5 million) would leave Oklahoma City nearly capped out in the summer of 2017. Barring a sign-and-trade, the Thunder would probably have only the midlevel exception to replace Ibaka or Westbrook if one of them departed. (The team would have cap space if both Ibaka and Westbrook left via free agency.)
Re-signing a one-year deal (or a two-year deal with a player option on the second season) would tie Durant’s free agency to those of Ibaka and Westbrook while also potentially making him more money over the life of his next contract. Because Durant will be a 10-year veteran after 2016-17, he’ll be eligible for a maximum salary starting at 35 percent of the cap rather than the 30 percent he’s limited to now.
The only remaining player on a partially guaranteed contract is guard Tyler Johnson, who had 50 percent of his $845,050 2015-16 salary guaranteed on Aug. 1. Otherwise, forward James Ennis has a opening-night guarantee deadline for his entire 2015-16 salary, with recently added free agents Keith Benson, Corey Hawkins and Greg Whittington guaranteed until Jan. 10.
The Miami Heat have established clarity with center Hassan Whiteside when it comes to his contract for the coming season. What follows, however, remains complex. The Sun Sentinel has confirmed that rather than make the emerging center wait through a series of guarantee dates, the Heat this week instead went gone forward and guaranteed Whiteside’s salary for the season.
J.R. Smith declined a player option that would have guaranteed him a $6,399,750 salary for this season alone. Instead, he settled for a contract that guarantees him just $4.15 million over the next two years. But that’s a little misleading. Another $3 million of his salary this season will become guaranteed Monday.