Sam Presti says Thunder not considering amnestying Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins has guided Kevin Durant* and mentored Steven Adams – the Oklahoma City Thunder’s best and arguably most-pivotal players, respectively.

*Durant during his MVP-acceptance speech on Perkins: “I hated you before you got here. But the moment you got here, man, you just changed my whole perception of you. Just one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I thank you so much. The late-night calls after tough games, you texting me telling me I’m MVP – that meant a lot to me. Thank you.”

Perkins is also due $9,404,342 next season, the final year of his contract.

His on-court production no longer warrants that salary, but he also has a strong locker-room presence. The Thunder must balance those competing forces when facing the annual question:

Will Oklahoma City amnesty Perkins?

Thunder general manager Sam Presti, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

“I knew I’d get that question,” Presti said. “I wish I had something clever to say there, but I don’t. We’ll look at everything, as we always do. But as we’ve said before, it’s not something that’s been considered to this point.”

Well, that just can’t be true. Not even considering amnestying Perkins would be stupid, and Presti isn’t stupid. But if he doesn’t plan to amnesty Perkins, why dwell on the internal discussions about that decision?

Beyond Perkins’ value as a veteran leader, amnestying him wouldn’t accomplish much.

Amnestying Perkins would put the Thunder slightly below the projected salary cap, but they’d still have just the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) to spend on a free agent.

If the Perkins don’t amnesty Perkins, they could still spend the full mid-level exception without crossing into the luxury tax – though adding the bi-annual exception ($2,077,000) would put them over the line. So, there’s the slightest incentive to amnesty Perkins if Oklahoma City can use the bi-annual to replace him with a better player, which is not a given and would cost quite a bit of real dollars.

Plus, Perkins’ large expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. Those types of deals can always grease the wheels when non-matching salaries are involved.

In the meantime, Oklahoma City will be keeping a well-liked player who still has some value – even if it’s not as much as his paycheck.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.