HANG TIME, Texas — The Thunder have ponied up $48 million over the next four years to keep Serge Ibaka in the fold. So they’re down to the last piece of the puzzle, James Harden, who could become a free agent next summer.
Based on everything they’ve done to this point, does anyone really think general manager Sam Presti is going to stop now, one step short of keeping the whole together for a run at the NBA championship?
Zach Lowe at SI.com breaks down all of the numbers and the dollars and the amount of luxury taxes the Thunder will be forced to pay:
The tax line is at $70.4 million now, and it will go up as league revenues rise. But most projections have the tax line somewhere around $75 million in the 2015-16, and very solid growth (about 3 percent) would have it jump only to $72.5 million in 2013-14 and $74.6 million in the following season. Note again: These are estimates.
Under the harsh new tax rates that kick in for the 2013-14 — just in time! — the Thunder would be paying a tax bill ranging from $7.5 million to $12.5 million or so, depending on the exact tax level and how much the team’s ownership is willing to spend on the back of the roster.
Is Oklahoma City, the league’s second-smallest market, willing to spend something like $85 million or even $90 million to fill a team? (more…)