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Mystery team revealed: Ronnie Price leaving Suns for OKC Thunder

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Ronnie Price told the Suns more than two weeks ago he was leaving for another team on a two year deal. Today, Eric Pincus tweeted it is the OKC Thunder.

NBA: USA TODAY Sports-Archive Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ronnie Price was a great veteran influence on the Phoenix Suns last year, and ended up playing the most minutes of his 11-year career when Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight both went down with lengthy injuries.

He was a free agent this summer that the Suns wanted to bring back for another season, but reportedly the Suns had no interest in committing beyond 2016-17 to the 33 year old journeyman point guard who posted a career high 5.3 points in just under 20 minutes per game last year.

It appears that the Oklahoma City Thunder are willing to go more than one year.

We heard that Ronnie Price agreed to a two-year deal with another team more than two weeks ago.

What was weird is that the team wasn’t announced, nor were the terms of the deal. On our podcast with Paul Coro of azcentral.com last week, even the Suns weren’t told the team or the terms. Just that it was a two-year deal.

Why would the team who wanted Price not announce the agreement?

Now that we hear it’s the Thunder, it’s no wonder they asked Price to cool his jets for a bit while the Thunder are in full-on scramble mode.

The Thunder have lost Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors and are in danger of losing Russell Westbrook a year from now, when he has a player option to become a free agent. Two of the league’s 10 best players could leave the Thunder for nothing. Nada. Zilcho.

So the Thunder have been scrambling ever since. On July 18, they withdrew their qualifying offer to Dion Waiters, making him a free agent. They’d already acquired Victor Oladipo in the Serge Ibaka trade and were planning on bringing Alex Abrines over from Europe.

On July 23, they ceremoniously renounced their rights to Derek Fisher, who has been retired from playing for years but apparently never filed the paperwork. His annual cap hold has remained on the Thunder’s books. By renouncing him, they are freed of that $980k cap hold.

Even after giving $6 million per year to Alex Abrines, the Thunder appear to have about $12 million left to spend under the cap.

They reportedly would like to give about $9 million of that cap space to Russell Westbrook in a renegotiate-and-extend deal, using a little-used rule in the CBA that allow a renegotiation on the last year or two of a 4-5 year deal after the first three years are completed. The Thunder could increase Westbrook’s salary from $17.7 million to $26.5 million this year, and give 7.5% raises in coming years. The deal would have to be for at least 3 seasons.

That leaves about $3 million to spend on the rest of the roster, with Ronnie Price reportedly set to take some of that money. But it might not be that simple.

Price’s camp might still be pushing for as much money as possible. Not only might the Thunder have to trade Westbrook if he doesn’t sign that extension, just so they don’t get left holding the bag, there is some turmoil around Westbrook’s backup too.

Second year guard Cameron Payne is the Thunder’s primary backup point guard, but he just had surgery to repair a Jones fracture and might be hobbled at the beginning of the year.

Price might be looking for real backup money. Other backups have gotten $6-8 million per year this summer, including Ish Smith, Jerryd Bayless and Matthew Dellavedova.

Most likely, Price’s camp and the Thunder have just agreed to let some other things sort themselves out before agreeing on terms.

Goodbye Ronnie. We’ll miss you. But any more than a one-year minimum deal is all the Suns should have offered anyway.

When it comes to third point guard, it’s Tyler Ulis time in the Valley of the Sun