DT Mailbag: Draft picks, free agents and financial flexibility

WANT

1. Me and my buddies were trying to figure out how the protected pick from Toronto works. None of us seem to know under what circumstances we keep the pick and how the pick could go back to the Raptors. Could you explain these scenarios? 2. Can you talk about some of the possibilities of the long-term solution at shooting guard. — Thomas F.

1. OK here’s how protected picks go: The Thunder have Toronto’s 2013 first round pick, top three protected and 15-30 protected next season and protected through 2017. In 2015, it’s top two and 15-30 protected. In 2016 and 2017, it’s top one and 15-30 protected. In 2018, it’s unprotected. That means next draft if the Raptors landed in the top three of the lottery, they get to keep the pick. That doesn’t mean the Thunder just lose it though. It just means it rolls over to 2014, where it would then be top two protected. And then on to 2015, 2016 and 2017. Same goes for the Mavs top-20 protected pick, through 2017. If that pick lands in the top 20 before 2017, the Mavs keep it and it just keeping rolling over to the next season until it either gets to 2017 or falls outside the top 20.

2. I’m really intrigued with the future of that position in OKC. There are some intriguing free agent options coming available next summer (Manu Ginobili, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis, Gerald Henderson, J.J. Redick), there’s the option of simply re-signing Kevin Martin, there’s the development of Jeremy Lamb and then there’s the Raptors pick. It’s definitely unknown which direction the Thunder will lean in the draft, but I’d assume they would be in the market for a new shooting guard. The best options there: Shabazz Muhammed, B.J. Young, Archie Goodwin and C.J. McCollum.

Or the Thunder use the pick to target a new center for the future. There’s not really a viable long-term solution on the roster there now and with a solid number of bigs in the draft — Cody Zeller, Nerlens Noel, Rudy Gobert — the Thunder could target a Perk replacement.

The good news is, the Thunder have options. Of course re-signing Harden was the preference, but the Thunder do have some new flexibility within the roster now. There’s a little financial breathing room and an opportunity to improve the team instead of just locking in to a core unit for the next five years.

Let’s assume the Thunder get lucky and get the fourth overall pick next year? Who should we take? — Terry M.

Like I said in the answer above, a lot of that depends on what the Thunder do with Martin and what they think of Jeremy Lamb. Or if they like a free agent like Redick. If they’re high on both, or even one, shooting guard might not be the way to go. Targeting a big to make Perk more expendable could be the better play.

But to me, if there’s an opportunity to get Shabazz Muhammed, you go for it. Granted, he has a whole season to play and things could change, but as it stands now, I’d make a deal to get into the top three if I had to. OK, so maybe I’m just trying to get Harden back but look at him. He’s a smooth lefty that can shoot, slash, pass and score. Isn’t he kind of perfect?

Still, I could absolutely understand going for a big man. A lot of this depends on where the pick lands. If it’s 12, the Thunder’s options will be limited and they’ll probably take a project big man and try and develop Lamb. But if they get lucky… oh boy.

Howdy, forgive my naivety [sic], but what do you think of a trade consisting something along the lines of: Perkins plus a first round pick to the Pacers for Roy Hibbert? I don’t mind the Harden trade so much, but I think OKC need a more defensive minded player in order to take it to the next level. And I’d rather trade Perk for some return rather than have to use the amnesty on him, if anyone I would rather use the amnesty on Westbrook. — James M.

Two problems with that trade: 1) The Pacers would never, ever do it and 2) if the Thunder weren’t willing to pay James Harden the max, they surely aren’t going to pay Roy Hibbert that, which is what he just signed.

And amnestying Westbrook would pretty much be the dumbest thing ever. Actually, that’s wrong. Amnestying KD would be the dumbest thing ever. So second dumbest thing ever.

I know that the feelings about the Harden trade are still fresh and it almost seems a little insensitive to bring it up so soon, but I wanted to ask about the potential effects of this trade financially for the organization. Does this trade really offer the Thunder a lot of cap space going forward and does it make re-signing Maynor a lock? Also, is Kendrick Perkins still a potential amnesty candidate since the Thunder now have the ability to acquire a center early in the draft (a guaranteed top 3 pick if I’m not mistaken) or use the draft picks in a trade for an established player? — Chad E.

It definitely clears the books some. Not a lot, but some. Here’s how it shakes out financially for the Thunder:

In 2013-14, the Thunder will have $55,816,241 committed to KD, Westbrook, Ibaka, Perk, Collison, Thabo, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and Nick Collison. The cap will likely be set somewhere around $60 million. That’s nine players under contract. So the Thunder will have access to the full mid-level exception as well as a decent amount of cash to use to either re-sign Kevin Martin or use it on someone else.

Essentially, the luxury tax concerns are gone. But that doesn’t mean the Thunder are afraid to spend. Keep in mind, when they offered Harden roughly $55 million, the Thunder were going to break significantly into the luxury tax. So if it’s Martin or some other player, the Thunder aren’t shy about spending.

Is Perk still an amnesty candidate? Sure. Absolutely. But not for the same reasons he was before. Under the new CBA rules, you can amnesty one player during the life of the agreement if the player was under contract when the new CBA when into effect. So if the Thunder determine Perk is mostly a waste of money, or feel like Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Tibor Pleiss or some future draft pick is better there, Perk could get slashed. Because with the amnesty, you either use it or lose it.

How come nobody is talking about Perry Jones III anymore? If anything the Harden trade creates more minutes and more playing time for PJ3. This is sort of forgotten because of the shock factor that goes with losing Harden and his beard. But having PJ3 playing side by side with KD is so much more in play now than it was with Harden on board. PJ3 along side KD just creates so much length, especially with Ibaka at the 5.  What is your take on this? — Derek V.

This email came in the day after the trade and I was in full agreement with it. I saw this as a major opportunity for Jones to slide in and provide a big bench spark.

Through the first five games, Jones has played a total of 23 minutes. And he’s only attempted four total shots. He looks extremely lost on the floor playing with OKC’s starters and second unit, completely unsure of himself. Jones has the talent to be a very impactful player, but it’s clearly a work in progress for him right now.

I think Scott Brooks wants to find time for him on the floor because Jones can do things and make a difference, but he’s got to perform when he gets those opportunities.

We all know about the new rule change requiring the tip off to follow the player introductions by no more than 90 seconds.  My question is if there are any ways around this.  For example, is it required that the visiting team be introduced first or could they be introduced afterwards to buy more time?  How about dragging names out as long as possible?  Are we allowed to introduce the entire squad or only the starters?  Are there actual rules against these or are is it basically just the way it’s always been done?  I know it would seem ticky tacky, but if they feel the need to make a ticky tacky rule, what’s the harm in finding the loopholes? — Seth P.

I think you’re thinking way too hard about this, Seth.

In regards to your mailbag question regarding the “experience” of watching a game in OKC: How great would it be if we were the one NBA team that had our crowd sing in unison the National Anthem for EVERY game? That would be somewhat signature. I don’t need to hear the next great four part harmony group to come out of Midwest City or the Bieber look-alike from Edmond come out and butcher the Star Spangled Banner before every home game. I think all would get chills to hear thousands of people singing the song together. 

I watched a hockey playoff game a few years back where the gentleman that was singing started O Canada and then dropped off and then let the folks finish it. I got goosebumps watching on TV and I have never even been to Canada. Imagine the same thing 41+ times this year. It needs to happen and it could be the one great thing about game experience in OKC. — Dale S.

I totally dig the idea. Similar to what the Blackhawks do. There are so many cool things the Thunder should be taking advantage of, but don’t. Knowing our luck, they’d have Sandi Patty sing it every night though.

Have a question or thought? Send it to dailythunder@gmail.com.