The Oklahoma City Thunder have a pivotal offseason ahead of them, with the most cap flexibility and draft capital that they’ve had in the past decade.
The Thunder have the second-lowest payroll in the NBA on the books next season and are projected to have at least $50 million in cap space to spend in free agency. With that in mind, they’ve already got 11 guys under contract next season and have four draft picks in the top 36.
While there will likely be trades and roster moves outside of just the draft and free agency, that means roster spots will be hard to come by in Oklahoma City. Money will have to be spent to brings players in on top of the four potential rookies that join the team.
With that in mind, there’s also three players who are set to his free agency from the roster last season who will be considered for these open spots as well. While each are in fairly different positions when it comes to their positioning to return to the team, this will be something Thunder GM Sam Presti will have to navigate as he utilizes his cap space.
Svi Mykhailiuk (Restricted)
A 6-foot-7 forward, Svi Mykhailiuk has shown he’s more than just a shooter during his short time in Oklahoma City. After being acquired in the Hamidou Diallo deal with the Detroit Pistons prior to the trade deadline, Mykhailiuk played a key role down the stretch for the Thunder.
In the 30 games he appeared in for the Thunder during the 2020-21 season, Mykhailiuk started in nine contests. While he knocked down his 3-point attempts at a consistent rate, he also showed his versatility on the defensive end of the floor and as a shot creator.
With his long frame, Mykhailiuk was tasked with guarding some of the most prolific scorers in the entire NBA at times last season. In fact, against the Dallas Mavericks, he was called up as a starter and was asked to be the Thunder’s primary defender for Luka Doncic.
Showing the ability to put the ball on the floor and scoring from multiple levels, Mykhailiuk showed a playmaking ability that we hadn’t seen from him before. Not only was he effective in the midrange, but also around the rim. He even showed off quite a few emphatic dunks at the rim when attacking off the dribble in OKC.
Mykhailiuk averaged 10.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game after being acquired by the Thunder in March.
Set to hit restricted free agency, the Thunder should heavily consider keeping the 23-year-old Mykhailiuk around. It’s not every day that you have a chance to acquire a guy of his size that’s able to space the floor and play multiple positions.
While it’s unclear what other teams around the league would offer to pull him away from the Thunder through an offer sheet, Mykhailiuk has shown that he would be a solid rotation player in the Thunder’s system going forward.
Tony Bradley (Restricted)
After bouncing around the league early in his career, Tony Bradley landed in Oklahoma City via trade last season. In a pretty significant trade deadline move, the Thunder sent George Hull to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package that included Bradley, who is a former first-round draft pick.
Just 23 years old, Bradley doesn’t have elite size for the center position at 6-foot-10, but is extremely efficient with his minutes. Through 22 games in a Thunder uniform off the bench, he averaged 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in just 18.0 minutes per game. Bradley also shot 65.6 percent from the floor and 70.5 percent from the free throw line.
A traditional center, Bradley isn’t able to stretch the floor, which is extremely important in the modern NBA. Due to this, he likely will never become a starting center in this league. However, in a limited backup role, he’s proven in several situations that he can be a huge spark off the bench without needing much floor time.
Bradley is yet another member of the Thunder that Sam Presti traded for near the deadline, fully knowing he would have to deal with restricted free agency in a few months.
The market for old school bigs who come off the bench shouldn’t be very hot, meaning the Thunder should be able to keep Bradley around on a team friendly deal. If they’re able to find the roster space for him and want to bring him back, he’d likely he competing for minutes with Moses Brown and any other centers OKC acquires this summer through the draft, trades and free agency.
Mike Muscala (Unrestricted)
One of the most well-respected players on and off the floor in Oklahoma City, Mike Muscala is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the third-straight offseason. While he re-signed with the Thunder last time around on a minimum deal, that may not happen again this summer.
While Muscala was a great stretch big for OKC last season and a key figure in the locker room, young talent will likely be prioritized this summer, especially considering the direction of the team and how tight roster spots will be. There will certainly be mutual interest in the two parties coming back together, but logistically it may not work out.
Regardless, Muscala should have a favorable market this summer in free agency, especially with the number of contenders who will be looking to add cheap shooting. At 6-foot-10, Muscala shot 37.0 from beyond the arc with the Thunder during the 2020-21 season.
The only unrestricted free agent the Thunder will have to worry about, Muscala will likely be wearing another team’s jersey next season.