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Thunder sign Semaj Christon after two years of controlling his NBA rights

NC State v Xavier

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 18: Semaj Christon #0 of the Xavier Musketeers drives against Desmond Lee #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first half during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at at University of Dayton Arena on March 18, 2014 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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The No. 55 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Semaj Christon has allowed the Thunder to maintain exclusive control of his NBA rights since draft night without paying him a dime.

No more.

Christon has twice rejected the required tender, a one-year contract (surely unguaranteed at the minimum) a team must extend to keep a player’s draft rights. Once, it was to play for Oklahoma City’s D-League affiliate for a low salary. Last year, Christon likely got a raise by going overseas.

But now, the point guard from Xavier is forcing the Thunder to give him… something.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder signed guard Semaj Christon, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

There are two realistic possibilities for this deal:

  • The Thunder gave Christon a small guarantee as an enticement to play for their D-League affiliate after they waive him in the preseason. That money – often $25,000-$125,000 – matters greatly to a player like Christon.
  • Christon took the required tender, knowing he’d likely get waived in the preseason without receiving any salary. At least this way, he’d become an unrestricted NBA free agent. He could still go to the Oklahoma City Blue, but if he played well – as he did two years ago in the D-League – any NBA team could sign him.

The Thunder already had 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries, including three point guards: Russell Westbrook, Cameron Payne and Ronnie Price. It’s extremely unlikely Oklahoma City makes room for Christon.

But, one way or another, he’ll be in a better situation after training camp.