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The Thunder are working on a contract buyout of Nate Robinson, according to J. Michael Falgoust of USA Today. The Thunder evidently tried to get a buyout done before the lockout, but weren’t able to. Once Robinson is bought out, he’ll become a free agent.
Robinson is on an expiring contract worth $4.5 million for this season and is seen as a valuable trade asset for the Thunder because he can a) play and b) is $4.5 million coming off the books in 2012.
Some had seen Robinson as a potential amnesty candidate for Oklahoma City, but that never made a whole lot of sense considering his contract isn’t massive and that it was expiring after this season. Once Robinson were bought out, it would free up a roster spot and a little bit more cash to work with in free agency. If Robinson were bought out how it normally works, most of that $4.5 million would count against the cap this year.
OKC would see 50 percent of any new NBA contract Robinson were to sign for this season removed from that $4.5 million cap hit. For example, if Robinson were to sign with the Hawks for one-year $3 million, OKC’s cap hit would be for $3 million.
Why not keep him on and let him just expire? For one, the roster spot. It frees Presti to use it on a D-Leaguer he likes or even to sign someone. Secondly, you have to pay him less, presumably. And third, OKC doesn’t need a fourth point guard. Robinson wasn’t happy at all with his situation in OKC and with Reggie Jackson now in the mix, the Thunder don’t have any plans for Robinson.