Don’t expect many amnesty clause players this season

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Finally, thanks to an amnesty clause in the new labor deal, every NBA team can wipe one bad contract off their books and never have to deal with it again. A “get out of jail free” card for NBA GMs. We like to call it the Gilbert Arenas rule. That should lead to a flood of players kicked to the curb, right? RIGHT?

Wrong. More like a trickle.

Because teams have a few years to use it (so long as the player is on the roster pre-lockout they can use it whenever), most teams are putting the amnesty card in their back pocket, reports Howard Beck at the New York Times.

“I don’t think there will be very many at all,” said one team executive, who asked to remain anonymous while the lockout remains in effect.

At most, three to six teams will take advantage of the amnesty clause this year, the executive said — a view that was echoed by others around the league. The reasons are varied and complicated.

Some teams are so far above the cap that removing one player will not provide room to sign free agents. A few teams have such low payrolls that they would dip below the minimum-payroll requirements. At least 10 teams have no obvious candidates for amnesty.

We call it the Gilbert Arenas rule, although the Magic could use it on Hedo Turkoglu and we’d understand. (Remember in all cases the player still gets paid his full contract, it just comes off salary cap and luxury tax numbers.) But that is the exception of having an obvious target to amnesty.

A more typical case might be the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, they would like to trim some of the $93 million they have in salary next season and to amnesty a player is one way. They could use it on Luke Walton, but he comes off the books the same year the tax goes up so you only really get a short-term boost letting him go. They could let Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) go, he is owed three years and $18.8 million. But wouldn’t the Lakers be better off trying to win with him for another year and then losing him next season (or the season after when the tax goes up)? The Lakers are way over the cap and the luxury tax line, who are they going to pick up that is better than World Peace to fill that role?

Most GMs don’t have an obvious hand to play, so they may sit on their cards and see how things play out. They know when to hold ‘em.

Of course, if they hadn’t given out these contracts in the first place….

Rockets were draining threes in the first half against Warriors in Game 6

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The Rockets were feeling it the first half in Game 6.

Playing with an energy the Warriors lacked at least in the first quarter), Houston defended well, pushed the ball in transition, and then they just drained three after three after three.

Eric Gordon started 4-of-4 from three and the team was 11-of-22 in the first half, which made up for the 11 turnovers and had them up 17 at one point and ahead by 10 after the first half.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala out for Game 6

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Steve Kerr has been searching for a couple of games now for his fifth guy.

With Andre Iguodala out there is no Death/Hamptons 5 lineup and Kerr is looking for a fifth guy to partner with his four All-Stars. Kevon Looney is starting, Jordan Bell is showing potential but also makes some rookie plays, Nick Young has been bad enough that Kerr trusted Quin Cook more at the end of the last game (and Cook missed his looks).

Kerr is going to have to keep searching for a guy in Game 6 because Iguodala is out again.

The Warriors are not the team heading into Game 6 with the most significant injury woes, the Rockets are without Chris Paul. That and the fact the Warriors’ backs are against the wall is the reason they are heavy favorites in Game 6.

However, the Warriors have not been the same without Iguodala. He is a playmaker who can control the ball and settle things down, makes the right decision, get the player and ball movement the Warriors have strayed too much from back, plus is one of their best defenders on James Harden. Nobody else on the roster can do that.

And if Game 6 gets tight late, the Warriors are going to miss those skills. As they have in the last two games.

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

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Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

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We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.