It seems like only yesterday that Thabo Sefolosha was one of the rocks for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was the guy in the starting lineup over James Harden; he was the anchor on the perimeter defensively; he was the guy who would consistently knock down shots when given the opportunity. Quietly, Sefolosha was one of the reasons that the Thunder became one of the forces in the NBA.
However, Sefolosha’s 2013-14 NBA season saw all of that dissipate. He spent much of the season in a suit due to a variety of injuries. When he did come back into the lineup, he wasn’t the same reliable two-way player that he had been for OKC for so long. All of this culminated in the postseason, when Sefolosha was benched on two occasions, the final time coming in the Western Conference Finals when he was benched after two games and rarely saw the floor after that.
Now Sefolosha will enter unrestricted free agency this summer and the word around the Thunder is that they do not plan to bring the veteran wing back for another run. While it’s not hard to understand the logic behind the move given the decline that Sefolosha showed this past season in OKC, it also put the Thunder in an interesting situation this offseason.
The obvious move for the Thunder is to start relying more heavily on Jeremy Lamb moving forward, hoping that he can develop to where he’s not a complete defensive liability when he’s on the floor to match his offensive contributions. However, that hope of Lamb developing and a lack of depth at the two-guard will likely amp up the pressure on the Thunder in free agency.
Considering that the Thunder are projected to be $6.4 million over the cap with only $2 million of nonguaranteed money to potentially cut off of their books, OKC isn’t going to be able to pursue top-dollar free agents like Lance Stephenson or even someone like Vince Carter. While they likely won’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel in the free agency shooting guard pool, the best route for the Thunder is likely to pursue a veteran at the position to help give them assurance and depth on the wings.
As Andrew Fisher pointed out earlier this week, Ray Allen is an interesting name for the Thunder to consider. As the Miami Heat likely look to restructure their roster, Allen may be looking to sign elsewhere and more than proved he can be an asset to a contender. A guy like Alan Anderson would also be an interesting fit as a veteran that could sure up rotations. Though he hasn’t played in a full season, Mickael Pietrus is an interesting name to throw into the mix.
If the Thunder look to add some younger blood, though, guys like E’Twan Moore, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Goudelock and Keith Langford (the latter two playing overseas this past season) are names that the Thunder could consider to fill the void left behind by Sefolosha.
Though the Thunder have been successful since trading James Harden, it’s clear that there’s been a need at the shooting guard with this need even with Sefolosha in the lineup. Now that he’s almost surely gone, the need is even direr. As a result, how the Thunder choose to address it is worth keeping an eye on this summer.