Surely you’ve seen the 5-on-5 series on ESPN.com. Well, it’s branching out (and by out, I mean down) to the TrueHoop Network. Three questions, three answers. Pretty simple.
It’s a hot little discussion around every team: If you could cut one player, no questions asked, who would it be? The Thunder are in a unique position in that they don’t exactly NEED to axe a player off their salary cap, but still, how would the proposed amnesty clause fit in with OKC?
1. Who should the Thunder use the amnesty clause on?
A. Nate Robinson
B. Thabo Sefolosha
C. Someone else
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: D. There’s really no sense in waiving Nate Robinson because his $4.5 million contract is more valuable as a trade piece than using it to cut into OKC’s cap space. No reason to cut Thabo because despite the frustrations that come with him, he’s still a good player to have on the roster and he’s not all that expensive. So be patient and don’t do anything just for the sake of it. You know, the Sam Presti Way.
Patrick James, Daily Thunder: E. It just depends on what the clause looks like. If the Thunder can hold onto it for a few years, why burn it on Robinson now when you can use him as a trade piece and keep the amnesty clause for awhile? And even if the Thunder does have to use or or lose it, Robinson might be more useful as a trade chip or deep bench player who can handle extended spot duty in the case of injury. No chance it’s used on Sefolosha.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: D. Because the Thunder will still have to pay the contract of anyone they amnesty, Sefolosha is off the table. I can’t see OKC wasting 10mil. Ditto with Robinson, who will have value if they choose to deal with him. Unless there’s someone out who represents a significant upgrade from those two, and can be had on the cheap, it’s probably best to stay pat. Or just cut Byron Mullins. Just ’cause.
Royce Young: Fact. The clause rewards teams that aren’t disciplined with their spending and offers a bailout for a bad decision. Now, at some point Presti is going to whiff on a free agent or extension, but that hasn’t happened yet. OKC has gotten ahead by staying one step in front of bad front offices. The amnesty clause helps level that playing field, if only a bit.
Patrick James: Fact. One of the Thunder’s key advantages so far (having guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook on rookie contracts SIMULTANEOUSLY) is about to go away already. It’s also a sizable advantage to have a guy like Sam Presti capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes and excesses, and that would be diminished with the amnesty clause. It represents a few arrows being pulled from Presti’s quiver, plus a few returned to competitors.
Beckley Mason: Fact! This rule sucks for smart teams with spare coffers because it’s designed to allow teams to spend their way out of bad decisions. Aside from going back in time to sign Tyson Chandler, what would the Thunder faithful even change about the last four years of moves from Presti, et al.
3. Fill in the Blank: The team that benefits most from the amnesty is _______________.
Royce Young: Miami Heat. Pat Riley has it easy. He’s got LeBron, Wade and Bosh. But he also has it very tough. Because he has to stay under the cap and still fill out a 13-man roster. He splurged by using his mid-level exception on Mike Miller but he was a bust (although he was injured most of last season). Riley needs to trim some fat off the cap and open up room to add a better piece to the puzzle.
Patrick James: Miami Heat. As long as they have the stones to do it, the Heat could benefit in a big way by using the clause on Mike Miller. Surely they planned on getting more than a 9.73 PER from Miller last year. The $24 million he’s owed is a lot of wasted money, but the Heat are in win-or-else mode and could attract some real discounted talent with that cap space. Teams like Detroit could get better financial relief, but the Heat have a chance to really do something with the amnesty clause.
Beckley Mason: I’d say either Portland, Miami or Los Angeles Varsity. The Lakers, because they have plenty of cash and an extra 10 million or so doesn’t kill the bottom line. The Heat because they need space to sign another quality big or spot up shooter (bye bye, Mike Miller). The Blazers because Brandon Roy drags on their future like his femur drags on his tibia. Knee jokes, yo.