COMMENTARY | The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the few teams in the NBA with the luxury of thinking about the present and the future.
They are one of the best teams in the league, but they play in a small market. Every move they make while featuring an elite roster could impact the future of the organization.
Here are the five best moves the Thunder have made this offseason:
Passing on the amnesty clause with Kendrick Perkins
The Thunder owe Perkins $18 million over the next two seasons, but they passed on the amnesty clause with their offensively limited big man.
Had the Thunder used the clause on Perkins they would have been forced to overpay the starting center position. They would have been hard-pressed to find another team willing to pick up even half of the contract, leaving them liable for most of the deal. Then Oklahoma City would have been on the market looking to pick up and pay another starting big man as a replacement.
Obviously, a small-market team cannot afford to pay the starting center position nearly double the value of the potential production. Which is why Perkins will likely be in Oklahoma City for the next two seasons.
Letting Kevin Martin walk
Kevin Martin signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves after spending last season as Oklahoma City's sixth man.
The Thunder have a sizable hole to fill on the team's bench, however, the organization saved in the long run by letting Martin walk. It would have been nearly impossible for Oklahoma City to re-sign Martin and stay under the luxury tax threshold of $71.6 million.
The Thunder need to stay under the threshold as long as they can before the team eventually dips into it in the future. Letting Martin walk this season added another year for the Thunder to dip into the tax without extra penalties from the repeat offender clause.
Martin signing with another team hurts now, but it will eventually save the franchise in the future and will allow the organization to offer their superstars max deals for a second time.
Re-signing Derek Fisher
Remember when Russell Westbrook used to go off on teammates and seemed like his maturity level was well under his skill level?
Ever notice how that doesn't happen with Derek Fisher on the roster?
Fisher brings leadership and the veteran presence a young Thunder roster still needs. He lockers next to Westbrook and commanded respect from his teammates during his first two stints with the team.
Fisher is also cheap and a valuable piece to an inexperienced Thunder bench. With all eyes on Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, Fisher's production will come in the form of advice and leadership for the young players looking to fill the shoes Kevin Martin left behind.
Drafting a project center
The Thunder look like they are going to ride the next two seasons out with Perkins as their starting center.
However, the Thunder drafted Steven Adams, a center from Pittsburgh University with the 12th pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He doesn't stand out as future All-Star but at 20 years old, he is something the team can look forward to after Perkins' contract comes to an end.
Signing Andre Roberson for 80 percent of the rookie scale
Again, the Thunder are doing everything in their power to stay out of the luxury tax.
Signing Roberson for just over $740,000 instead of just over $925,000 makes a huge difference in the team's efforts to avoid paying extra on top of its payroll. The team will pay Roberson 120 percent of the rookie pay scale in years two and three of the contract.
By signing for 80 percent in year one as opposed to 120 percent, Roberson is helping his team avoid penalties as repeat luxury tax offenders a year earlier than expected.
Trey Hunter lives in Oklahoma City and has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder with media credentials since 2011. He has been published on Hoops Addict and SB Nation. You can follow him on Twitter: @TreyHunter87 .
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- Oklahoma City Thunder
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- Kendrick Perkins
- Derek Fisher