Dontay Sowder to sign with Thunder
- By The Commissioner, Day 4, 2023
Dontay Sowder is joining the Seattle Thunder.
Saying he has experienced "by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life," Sowder announced his decision to leave the Houston Lightning in a post on The Players' Tribune.
Sowder agreed to a sign and trade to Seattle that sees last year's championship winning Thunder starters, Antoine Hall and Deangelo Tarver, traded to Houston in a move that will shake up the "Hell in the" Pacific division, the Western Conference and the JBL at large.
Sowder will sign a five year, $140.0 million contract, sources told JBLSPN. The deal will include a player option in the final year.
To make this move, Seattle were forced to move sixth man Devan Carroll earlier in the week in order to clear enough space to fit Sowder's $28 million salary under the cap. Thunder had $78.9 million in salary before trading Hall's $24 million and Tarver's $3.2 million, fitting Sowder under the cap with just $300,000 to spare and meeting league rules regarding sign and trades.
"The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to win championships," Sowder wrote. "But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. Moving home was a huge temptation but in the end I want to see myself in the discussion as the best player ever, and I think this is the best place for me to win more championships.
"I also did not want to leave Houston in the lurch. With this in mind, I have decided to sign a deal that sees the Lightning get something back in value, because I recognise the role Houston has played in my career."
After Sowder signs with Seattle, two-time reigning Finals MVP Andre Phifer will be the second-highest-paid player on the Thunder and the third All-JBL player. Sowder will be No. 1, followed by Phifer ($22.5 million) and Ainsley Tucker ($20.0 million). Thunder now have two of the 2022 All-JBL first team on their roster. Phifer can become a free agent after this season.
Phifer told The Undefeated in a text message that he was ecstatic the Thunder landed Sowder. He tweeted to express his enthusiasm about his new teammate.
Sowder's contract can be finalised Thursday morning, when the leaguewide moratorium on signings and trades is lifted.
Thunder coach Mitchell Butler was in Hawaii and said he learned about Sowder's decision to join Seattle via The Players' Tribune.
The Lightning now get a chance to rebuild around Isaiah Clarkson, Hall, Tarver and possibly Stephan Hood after moving Orpheus Swayda to the Phoenix Vultures earlier in the week. This move gives them enough space to re-sign Hood and play a two guard game, or decide to run with Tarver and chase a wing rotation in free agency.