2011 NBA Free Agency: Allan Houston Rule - Southwest Division
One of the topics expected to be discussed during the pending NBA lockout is the possible revival of The Allan Houston Rule. When a new CBA was agreed upon in 2005, it allowed NBA teams a one-time opportunity to waive a player and not have his contract count against the luxury tax. The released player becomes a free agent but his salary still gets paid and counts against his former team's salary cap. Ironically enough, Allan Houston was not a victim of The Allan Houston Rule. The Knicks instead decided to waive Jerome Williams.
If the new CBA once again invokes this clause, most teams will probably take advantage since it would save them possibly tens of millions of dollars. To keep up with the times, we will change the name of this from "The Allan Houston Rule" to the "Rashard Arenas Rule" since Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas easily have the two worst contracts in the league. Allow me to break down each team and who would end up being the casualties of this rule. I'll start with the Southeast Division.
Brandan Haywood is due almost $35 million over the next four seasons. With that being said, Tyson Chandler is a free agent so cutting Haywood would only make sense if Chandler re-signed with Dallas. Plus let's be honest, when has money ever been an issue for Mark Cuban? The Mavs did use the Allan Houston Rule in 2005 to cut Michael Finley so maybe Cuban will take advantage of this option.
I know they just acquired him at the trade deadline and he is only entering his third year in the league, but Hasheem Thabeet would be the only player worth cutting for the Rockets. He will make $5.1 million next season with a team option worth almost $6.5 million in 2012-13. The 7-2 center hasn't shown any indications that he will become a serviceable big man and general manager Daryl Morey might be best off cutting his losses while he still can. Houston is not in any real jeopardy of reaching the luxury tax though so they probably give Thabeet another year to show something and then just turn down his option next summer if he looks to be a bust.
The Grizzlies are really one of the underrated teams in terms of building a team with young players and let them develop together. They do not have any terrible contracts on the books, and even though they figure to hit the luxury tax level after re-signing Marc Gasol, Memphis probably passes on this one-time exception.
New Orleans Hornets:
With only six players under contract for next season, I don't think the Hornets can afford to release anybody even if it may help their reported struggling financial situation. Of those six players, Emeka Okafor is due $40.5 million over the next three seasons. Although releasing Okafor would literally leave New Orleans with zero post players under contract and would pretty much guarantee that Chris Paul would not re-sign with the Hornets.
San Antonio Spurs:
I thought Richard Jefferson was dumb for opting out of the final year of his deal last summer that would have paid him in excess of $14 million. I thought the Spurs were insane for then re-signing Jefferson to a 4-year extension worth about $39 million. While San Antonio is on its last legs in its NBA title hopes, cutting Jefferson would be planning for the inevitable re-building project that will happen in a couple of years. Plus, the Spurs traded for Jefferson's potential replacement in Kawhi Leonard during the 2011 NBA Draft. I think the Spurs release Jefferson and find a cheaper veteran who can fill the starter role and bridge the transition to Leonard taking over the starting spot.
If the Spurs decide Jefferson is too valuable to release, then Antonio McDyess could be the casualty especially if he retires which has been rumored this offseason. Even if he does come back for another season, he will make more than $5.2 million in 2011-12 which is a lot to pay someone who averaged a little more than five points and five boards per game last season.
I messed up the 2nd round order, so I'm gonna try this again. Same deal as last time, no trades this time around like I did in my first mock even though projecting them can be fun. I'll do another one in about a month or so after the Super Bowl, Senior Bowl, combine and all that other good stuff.