The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly rescinded their qualifying offer to guard Dion Waiters, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Sources on @TheVertical: Oklahoma City has rescinded qualifying offer on Dion Waiters, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 19, 2016
This is an incredibly interesting move for the team, especially this late into free agency itself.
Though, the reasoning behind said decision is sound. First off, it eliminates a $12.8 million cap hold Waiters took up by being a restricted free agent.
Secondly, that money might be needed in order to negotiate a long-term deal with Russell Westbrook between now and the start of the 2016-17 season.
While it is being reported that Russ won’t seek an extension this summer, the move also makes sure that Oklahoma City will have cash on hand to compete for the guard’s services on the open market next year.
As a restricted free agent, the Thunder had an opportunity to match any offer thrown Waiters’ way.
The issue here is that both the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers have a ton of cash room, which would have made it hard for Oklahoma City to match an offer for Waiters while still having the cash to retain Westbrook next summer.
Waiters, 24, averaged 9.8 points while shooting 39 percent from the field a season ago. He’s never lived up to the expectations that came with being a top-five pick back in 2012.
This obviously doesn’t mean some team isn’t going to throw a large sum of cash his way. Such is the nature of the beast when existing in today’s NBA market.