The Hasheem Thabeet reclamation project has ended for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The former number two overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers along with some cash on Tuesday in exchange for a protected 2015 second round draft pick and a $1.25 million trade exception. The 76ers are expected to waive Thabeet and his unguaranteed contract immediately.
Thabeet, a former University of Connecticut standout, failed to live up to the massive expectations that came with his 7’3″ frame prior to the draft. He may be one of the ultimate testaments that you can’t teach size, but you also need to be able to teach skill. A fan favorite, Thabeet was a frequent cheerleader and source of energy on the bench. His problem was that he was rarely able to get off of it. His averages of 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game over his last two seasons with the Thunder are also rather underwhelming.
For the Thunder, Thabeet became an unnecessary roster space with the development of Steven Adams and the addition of Mitch McGary as backups to incumbent center Kendrick Perkins. With his $1.25 million contract guaranteed after September 1st, Thunder general manager Sam Presti figured it was best to create some more space under the luxury tax line and also free up an extra roster spot to work with.
The 76ers continue year two of their ultimate tanking project by getting involved in any trade that may net them assets. Just days after trading Thaddeus Young for a first round draft pick and two lesser players, they essentially got paid to take Thabeet off of the Thunder’s hands. By temporarily renting out their abundance of cap space out to accommodate his contract, the team got paid to waive him. For Thabeet, the fact that even the lowly 76ers don’t want him may not bode well for his future in the NBA.
The biggest impact for the Thunder will be what Sam Presti does with this extra roster space and $2,806,033 worth of space separating the Thunder from the luxury tax line. Armed with the $1.25 million exception from Thabeet, the Thunder could theoretically take on an extra $1.25 million in salary differential in a trade. However, Presti has shown a reluctance in actually using his trade exceptions, letting the recent $2.2 million and $6.6 million exceptions of Eric Maynor and Kevin Martin expire while gaining nothing.
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Another reasonable option for the Thunder would be to keep first round draft pick Josh Huestis with the team, as opposed to sending him to the D-League or overseas to develop. While this sounds like a good plan, Huestis would not really see any floor time at the bottom of the bench and would get much more playing time and development being a star for the team’s D-League affiliate.
The most likely occurrence will be that the Thunder go into the season with a roster of 14, leaving them with the flexibility and cap space to make a move that could help the team if the right opportunity comes along. Sam Presti has proven his expertise in crafting a competitive roster that stays under the luxury tax threshold, so Thunder fans have no reason to doubt him.
Until then, we are just left with these lasting memories of the few times Hasheem Thabeet saw the floor in Oklahoma City:
Thanks for your time in Oklahoma City, Hasheem, and best of luck in the future.
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