Do you think Kevin Durant would consider restructuring his contract (take a pay cut) to create cap space for James Harden? — Tommy F.
It seems to make so much sense, right? These guys are talking sacrifices, so why not walk the walk? And nobody talks it and walks it better than KD.
He’s already said he’d do it, actually. Problem is, he can’t. Nor can Russell Westbrook. I actually wrote about this exact thing back in January. A person with direct knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement told me that while players can restructure, a player on a max deal can’t. Because a restructured deal has to include an extension and you can’t extend a more than the max. KD is on a designated player five-year max deal. So is Westbrook. You can’t add on a sixth year, because five is the max.
But if they really wanted to sacrifice, there’s nothing in the CBA that says they can’t chip in on Harden’s salary. Or the luxury tax. Just saying.
Actually, you know what, the answer is obvious, isn’t it? A Kickstarter for Harden/the luxury tax! I’ll get right on that.
I wanted to know what you thought about OKC’s growth in the Finals this year. In the series against the Spurs they played like they never have before — in that there was less isolation and lots more ball movement leading to a lot easier baskets. I personally loved to see this type of play from them, and it be clarified by Reggie Miller saying “we are watching a team grow up and mature”, but noticed they went away from it in the series against the Heat. Do you think that they just played a great series against the Spurs, or do you think we may have seen a turning point from the Thunder in the way they run their offense from now on. — Nicholas W.
I think the answer is pretty simple: The Spurs don’t defend like the Heat. San Antonio doesn’t have LeBron, who can guard five positions. They don’t have Dwyane Wade, who might have the best defensive anticipation in the league. The structure of Miami’s defense took away OKC’s ball movement and spacing really well.
But there is a little misnomer about the way the Finals went against the Heat. The Thunder scored enough to win. What failed them most was that their defense failed to show up at critical times. It was inconsistent throughout, one part because of matchups and another being that the Heat played really good and shot the ball surprisingly well.
Obviously ball movement and spacing is wonderful. It looks great and makes it seem like a team is playing really well. But so much of it also depends on the ball simply going in. The Thunder didn’t get the kind of production from Ibaka, Thabo, Daequan Cook and others in the Heat series. OKC’s not a big ball movement team. It’s not what got them there. But I do think they played maybe their four very best games of the entire season in that series against the Spurs. That’s the level they have to work to play at consistently.
Just wondering whether you really think that Perk is a legitimate amnesty candidate now with Dwight Howard to the Western Conference. I’m mean Perk is the Dwight stopper and having Perk should in theory enable the Thunder to get past the Lakers with relative ease. — Ben from Australia
Definitely. Thing is though, Perk was relevant for the Thunder regardless of the Howard trade. Because he’s also a Bynum stopper. So whether the Lakers got Howard or not, Perk was going to be needed.
But if it comes down to essentially choosing between keeping Perk on the roster to basically defend one guy four times a season and then maybe more if the teams meet in the postseason, or keeping James Harden, I think the decision is fairly easy. You simply do not keep Perk on the team just to defend Howard at the expense of losing Harden for the long term. In the list of Things That Don’t Make Sense, that would rank pretty highly, right next to people liking Twilight.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you’ve seen the Thunder quietly try and stockpile young bigs. Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Tibor Pleiss, Latavious Williams. The hope is that one can blossom into a bargain replacement for Perk.
When their careers are finished, who do you think has more All-Star Game appearances, Serge or James? — Katie T.
Harden, no question. Because in the West, there aren’t many 2-guards that will get the nod ahead of him much longer. Kobe, Manu… and then Harden, right?
For Ibaka, the West has Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph. Beating any of them out doesn’t seem reasonable. BUT, Ibaka could be sliding into more of a center role in the future for the Thunder and if you’re the top shot blocking center in basketball, there’s a good chance you’re going to get a backup center spot behind Dwight Howard in the West.
Outside of a positional change, Ibaka’s going to have a hard time ever making the team.
I’m really excited about Perry Jones this season. But is he even going to play at all? Please tell me he will. — Mark C.
Magic 8-ball says “too early to tell.” I’m sure if Jones comes into camp and wows Scott Brooks, he’s going to get minutes. But if he’s raw, has trouble finding a role and doesn’t find a rhythm in playing low minutes, Brooks may just stick with the rotation he’s already comfortable with.
I do think Jones is a really interesting addition though and one that could play bigger dividends than some are thinking. Because this is a player with exceptional versatility, that can play a stretch 4 position and allow KD to remain at small forward. He gives OKC an ideal player to throw out against other small ball lineups. Assuming he can play and that he’s ready to produce, he could be a major pickup for OKC.
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