Josh Huestis throws up a jump ball on day one of his youth skills camp in Great Falls. (TOM WYLIE/MTN Sports)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Former Great Falls CMR standout Josh Huestis may very well be playing for a new NBA team next season after the Oklahoma City Thunder declined to pick up his fourth-year team option at Tuesday’s deadline according to published reports.

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Huestis, who has played in every game for the Thunder this season, is currently making $1.47 million in the third year of his contract. He stood to make $2.2 million in 2018-19 if the Thunder exercised their team option, but will now be free to seek a contract elsewhere this summer during free agency, possibly for more money.

For most teams $2.2 million for a fourth-year player would be a bargain, but the Thunder are already over the salary tax and are potentially on the hook for even more money next year. If newly acquired Carmelo Anthony opts into the final year of his contract at $28 million and the Thunder re-sign Paul George at what would likely be a max contract worth north of $30 million, they would need to clear significant cap space. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook is also due to make $35 million next season.

Huestis was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, selected 29th overall. He became the NBA’s first domestic “draft and stash” product, opting to play for the Thunder’s D-League affiliate for a year before signing his rookie deal in 2015.

Per NBA rules, Huestis could still re-sign with the Thunder next season, but OKC would not be able to offer him more than the $2.2 million they declined to pick up, which makes it very likely Huestis will test the free agent waters in search of a larger contract.

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward is regarded as a defensive specialist with an improving perimeter game. Huestis averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line in the D-League last year. He is averaging 1.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.7 minutes through OKC’s first six regular-season games this year.

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