Who Would Be Cut? Part 1.
by Jovan Buha / @JovanBuha
With neither the players’ union nor the owners able to cave in and agree to a deal, there’s officially an NBA lockout, leaving basketball fans across the globe in a state of limbo.
Will any games be missed? What will the salary-cap look like? How will this affect my team?
At this point there are no clear-cut answers, but one thing for certain, or so it appears, is that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will have some form of an amnesty provision. What’s an amnesty provision you ask? Basically every NBA team would have the opportunity to “release” one player from their team, while simultaneously paying off the player’s remaining salary.
It is up for debate whether or not the player’s contract would still affect the teams salary-cap, but with a proposed hard cap in the new CBA, it seems doing so would be too harsh. As a result, expect teams to be allowed to likely cut a player without having his heinous contract affecting their future cap space.
This begs the question, which players would be released by their respective teams? SI.com’s Zach Lowe took a shot at the topic back in May, but the 2011 NBA Draft, as well as a few trades, have take place since then.
Therefore, in a two-part series split up by conference, we will take a look at the Eastern Conference’s (and then the Western Conference’s) rosters and assess which player each team would waive under the supposed amnesty provision.
For simplicity’s sake, every team will have to cut one player (which wouldn’t be the case in actuality), and we’ll be assuming that the player’s contract would come completely off the books, alleviating cap space for the team. All salary numbers are courtesy of HoopsWorld.
Candidates: Joe Johnson (5 years, $107.3 million), Marvin Williams (3 years, $24.9 million), Kirk Hinrich (1 year, $8.1 million)
Well, Marvin Williams will be making around $8 million per year despite ranking 25th amongst small forwards in PER. Kirk Hinrich was a huge mid-season upgrade over Mike Bibby, but his deal is too pricey, even if it’s just one season. Joe Johnson will be the highest paid player in the league in both 2015 ($23.9 million when he’s 34 years old) and 2016 ($24.9 million when he’s 35 years old). Did his contract ever make sense?
Final Verdict: Marvin Williams
Johnson’s deal is one of the league’s worst, but he’s still a quality player and it’d be foolish to let him go. On the other hand, Williams is a decent role player who isn’t going to get much better. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Marvin’s Room when he’s waived.
Candidates: Jermaine O’Neal (1 year, $6.2 million)
There’s no way Jermaine O’Neal deserves $6.2 million, but with Shaq retiring and Nenad Krstic leaving for Russia, the Celtics would be left with only Kevin Garnett and rookie JaJuan Johnson holding down the paint (unless Glen Davis or Jeff Green are re-signed). That’s a problem.
Final Verdict: Jermaine O’Neal
The C’s might pass on this opportunity in real life, but there are definitely cheaper, younger and more productive centers available via free agency.
Candidates: Tyrus Thomas (4 years, $33.4 million), Corey Maggette (2 years, $21.2 million), DeSagna Diop (2 years, $14.3 million), Matt Carroll (2 years, $7.4 million)
Think about this for a second: DeSagna Diop and Matt Carroll will be making $21.7 million collectively over the next two seasons to sit on Charlotte’s bench. Tyrus Thomas, albeit very talented, has yet to put “it” together and is quickly running out of excuses. Although Maggette was just acquired by the Bobcats, his 10 million plus per year is too high for a past-his-prime swingman on the wrong side of 30.
Final Verdict: DeSagna Diop
There’s literally no reason to pay a third-string center (Diop) or shooting guard (Carroll) lumps of money to ride the pine. In this case, Diop’s contract is worse. Good bye.
Candidates: Carlos Boozer (4 years, $60.6 million), C.J. Watson (2 years, $6.6 million)
Other than Boozer’s atrocious deal, Chicago doesn’t have any other head-scratching contracts. Watson only merits consideration because his six million plus over the next two seasons could be viewed as an unnecessary expense for a back-up point guard asked to only play 10 to 12 minutes per night.
Final verdict: C.J. Watson
In actuality the Bulls would likely pass, although if they were to release someone, it wouldn’t be Boozer. Not only would it be a terrible PR move (admitting their key acquisition from summer 2010 was a failure), but it would also make zero sense basketball-wise (Taj Gibson isn’t better…yet). In this case, a cheaper point guard could easily replace Watson.
Candidates: Baron Davis (2 years, $28.7 million), Antawn Jamison (1 year, $15.1 million), Ramon Sessions (2 years, $8.8 million)
With the drafting of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, as well as the acquisition of Omri Casspi, it’s clear that the Cavaliers have chosen their foundation to build around for the future. Thus, Jamison (bad contract), Davis (horrible contract) and Sessions (third-best point guard) are easily expendable.
Final Verdict: Baron Davis
Davis’ deal is longer than Jamison’s and is undoubtedly the tougher pill to swallow. Add Davis’ history of motivational issues and questionable team influence, and it may be best if Irving is under the guidance of a different mentor.
It’s usually not a good thing when your two shooting guards (Hamilton and Gordon) are two of the most overpaid players in the NBA. Throw in a couple of underachieving power forwards in Maxiell and Villanueva, and one can see why Joe Dumars’ job is rumored to be in jeopardy at times.
Final Verdict: Richard Hamilton
Gordon and Villanueva still have their rest of their mediocre primes to enjoy, and could just be suffering career-setbacks because of all the chaos surrounding them in Detroit. Maxiell, while not worth the contract, wouldn’t help their salary-cap situation much. Hamilton, however, is at the twilight of his career and will be hard-pressed to live up to even half his contract’s value.
Candidates: James Posey (1 year, $7.6 million), Dahntay Jones (2 years, $5.6 million)
The Pacers have been smart with their decision-making in recent seasons, acquiring young, cheap talent and setting themselves up to possibly lure in a marquee free agent. The only two recent blemishes on their résumé have been the acquisitions of Posey and Jones, two overpaid, defensive-minded swingman with limited offensive abilities.
Final Verdict: James Posey
Posey has become a shell of the 2008 version we saw in the Celtics’ title run. He still has a place in the league somewhere, but for nowhere near this price tag. Jones, on the other hand, isn’t much better, but won’t cost as much next season and has slightly higher trade value.
Candidates: Mike Miller (4 years, $24 million)
With a bunch of players on short-term deals and/or the veteran’s minimum, the Heat won’t need to rid themselves of any bad deals anytime soon. On the contrary, if last season was any indication, Mike Miller will be labeled as an “overpaid” player starting next season (all the way into 2015-2016, when he’ll be making $6.6 million).
Final Verdict: Mike Miller
At 31 years old Miller’s skill level is rapidly declining and his only exquisite trait —shooting— became unreliable last season (.401 FG%, .364 3PT%, .676 FT%). Perhaps that was due to his never-ending thumb injuries, but there are other available sharpshooters that will command far less than $5-6 million per season (like the Heat’s unrestricted free agent James Jones).
Candidates: Drew Gooden (4 years, $26.3 million), Stephen Jackson (2 years, $19.3 million), Beno Udrih (2 years, $14.3 million)
In hopes of obtaining a quality starting power forward, the Bucks took an expensive flier on Gooden. What a mistake. He’s not terrible (11.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 15.97 PER), but he does not constitute making over $6 million per season. Jackson and Udrih warrant consideration, because Jackson wasn’t too thrilled to play for the Bucks and Udrih is superfluous with Brandon Jennings already in Brew City.
Final Verdict: Drew Gooden
Jackson and Udrih only have two years left, while Gooden has four. I’m not a math major, but I’d rather have the better player(s) for a shorter period of time than the worse one for longer.
Candidates: Travis Outlaw (4 years, $28 million), Johan Petro (2 years, $6.8 million)
Can the Nets get a refund on their entire free agent class of 2010? Outlaw, who has never been a highly productive player (or worth $7 million per year), has one of the worst price-to-production contracts in the NBA. It’s also quite baffling as to how Petro would ever merit making over three million dollars per season
Final Verdict: Travis Outlaw
Petro might not have the skill to justify being on an NBA roster, but his contract is nowhere close to as dreadful as Outlaw’s. Thus far, Outlaw’s signing is Mikhail Prokhorov’s biggest blunder with the Nets. Fortunately, the Russian Mark Cuban may have a chance to redeem himself soon.