Should the Sixers use the “amnesty clause” on Elton Brand?

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Elton Brand has been a let down to fans in Philadelphia. A max deal guy not playing up to his standards in a tough town. His first year there he played just 29 games due to injury. His second season he was back for 76 games but was just average, not fully recovered and stuck on a bad team. Last season he was good — not the very good Brand from his Clippers years, not the very good Brand the Sixers paid top dollar for, but still Brand was good and his 15 points and 8 rebounds a game was one reason the Sixers made the playoffs.

That said, he is owed $35 million over the next two years and is seen by many fans as an anchor on the team’s rebuilding effort. So, when the NBA finally gets its labor mess together and that includes an amnesty clause — where teams can let a player go and write down his salary off the cap — is Elton Brand the guy sent walking?

No, says Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not even close.

First, if the NBA does lose this season because of the ongoing labor negotiations, Brand will only have 1-year/$18 million remaining on his contract. At that point, he becomes a great trade chip, if nothing less. But more to the point, this amnesty clause is there to be used on players producing at very low percentages of their contract value. It’s true that Brand is no longer worth a max contract or $17-18 million a year, but last season (81 games played, 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds a game) he was probably worth 70-80 percent of that money. The franchise would be waiving a double-double player and only saving a few million dollars (if you consider that they’d have to sign a player to replace him, anyway). It’s just not worth it to the Sixers to lose Brand’s services, when he’s producing at a solid level. In addition, Brand isn’t a trouble maker. You could make the argument for waiving Brand under this clause if he was a disruption or if he was a liability in the locker room. But nothing could be further from the truth. Brand might make up for (some of) his diminished on-court value with his leadership skills and steady presence….

So what move would make more sense if you took this approach to using the amnesty clause? Waiving Andres Nocioni. This is assuming the league and union agree to a new CBA this season because Nocioni has 1-year/$6.7 million remaining on his contract (and a team option for the 2012-13 season).

Fans across the nation will feel like the fans in Philly — they will see the amnesty clause as a way to punish players that frustrate them, that haven’t lived up to expectations. But Fagan is spot on — it’s better to overpay a player who is giving you some value and let go of a player who makes less but doesn’t add as much.

There will be surprises. Remember back in 2005 the amnesty clause was referred to as the Alan Houston Rule — and the Knicks kept Houston. Of course, that was the Knicks 2000s, so logic need not apply.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.