Elton Brand

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


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.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.