(Note: I wrote this last night before LeBron announced he’s returning Cleveland. Holy crap!)
That Sam Presti did it again. He let another trade exception expire without using it.
Or at least, he’s probably going to. The $6.6 million traded player exception created last summer in the Kevin Martin sign-and-trade will expire at midnight tonight, and it doesn’t appear that the Thunder have anything lined up to use it on.
So, let’s talk about that.
First, an important note on trades: They don’t work like the draft. You don’t just pick a player you like, say “Here’s our trade exception!” and then acquire said player. It takes two, sometimes three, teams to get a trade done. And everyone has to agree and everything. One team has to be interested in offloading a salary they don’t really want anymore, and the other has to want that player. It worked out for the Nuggets a few weeks ago as they used a TPE, Evan Fournier and a second-round pick to land Arron Afflalo. But it’s not exactly that easy.
For instance, here are the players that would fit into OKC’s exception:
- Amir Johnson ($6.5 million)
- Landry Fields ($6.2 million)
- Jason Richardson ($6.2 million)
- Gerald Henderson ($6.0 million)
There are a whole bunch under $6 million but you get the point there — not a ton of shining must-have players there. There has been some speculation the Thunder might use it to sign-and-trade Pau Gasol, but the other free agency dominoes might falling into place too late for that to even happen.
I can already feel the angst boiling up about Presti not making something happen with it, but there’s often a misconception with trade exceptions, that they have to be used. In reality, all Presti shrewdly did was create an asset out of a player walking in free agency. Most general managers wouldn’t even create that kind of asset like Presti did. Had the right deal at the right time come along, the Thunder would’ve had a handy trade exception to use on it.
Obviously they didn’t find a move they liked, so they didn’t. It’s not as if they “wasted” it as much as they didn’t locate a deal they wanted to use it on. It’s not like a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing. A trade exception isn’t exactly free money to spend. You’re still taking $6.6 million on to your roster. It’s essentially added flexibility and transactional versatility.
I’m still pretty firmly convinced the Thunder will walk away with a piece or two in this free agency period, but it just isn’t likely to be via that trade exception. Which isn’t really a big deal.