In this tough economy, any job for a player these days is a good one. And there is talk the Thunder, with 14 guaranteed contracts and no worries about the luxury tax, might be a rare team that has no problem with a 15-man roster.
That's why veteran forwards Michael Ruffin and Ryan Bowen will be heading to the Thunder camp on nonguaranteed contracts, looking to earn a job.
"I think I've got a chance," said Ruffin, a nine-year veteran who played last season with Portland.
But also thinking that way is Bowen, a nine-year man who played last season with New Orleans.
"They tell us they have a spot," Bowen's agent, Guy Zucker, said of Thunder officials. "And they're looking for somebody similar to Ryan. So we think we have a good chance. They've got a young team, and they're looking for [a good veteran influence]. Ryan is incredibly professional, he's unbelievably smart, he's experienced, and he has no ego."
Some would say Ruffin is worthy of a similar description. Let the battle begin for the 15th spot.
With teams that are going overseas in October beginning training camp Saturday and others starting next Tuesday, teams are filling out their training camp rosters. And not too many are handing out fully guaranteed contracts. Consider that Desmond Mason couldn't even get a guaranteed deal last week from Sacramento.
"It's been a tough summer," Ruffin said of players looking for teams. "With the economy, teams are going to keep one or two less players than before. There's less jobs."
But the Thunder might be hiring. Candidates are lining up outside.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com.