Trail Blazers make play for Kanter

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Restricted free agency has been pretty darn restricted over the last few years.

This summer, 12 restricted free agents (including Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard) have already re-signed (or agreed to re-sign) with their current teams. Only one – Kyle O’Quinn, via sign-and-trade deal from Orlando to New York – has changed teams. And no restricted free agents had signed (or agreed to sign) an offer sheet … until Thursday.

With the departures of LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews, the Blazers have more than enough cap space to offer Kanter a maximum contract, which would start at $16.4 million. Portland already has four true bigs – Ed Davis, Chris Kaman, Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee – on the roster. Newly signed Al-Farouq Aminu is also, at his best, a power forward. But at 23 years old, Kanter would give them another building block as they transition from two straight 50-win seasons.

The Thunder will have three days to do match the offer sheet once they receive it. Doing so would cost them more than his salary.

If they choose not to match, the Thunder would have 14 players under contract and be about $2.5 million under the luxury tax line. If they did match the offer sheet, they’d be looking at more than $26 million in luxury taxes, in addition to the extra $16.4 million of salary.

OKC could try to unload the contracts of D.J. Augustin ($3.0 million next season), Perry Jones ($2.0 million) and Steve Novak ($3.8 million) to lower their tax bill on a team or teams that still have cap space. The departure of Augustin would put some pressure on 14th pick Cameron Payne to step in right away as the backup point guard, but the other two wouldn’t necessarily be missed.

Of course, the Thunder have the depth up front – with Jones, Mitch McGary and Nick Collison behind Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams – to deal with the departure of Kanter.

The Thunder got Kanter in a deadline trade in which they gave up Reggie Jackson and a protected first round pick. Kanter averaged 18.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in 26 games (all starts) after he arrived, but is a disaster defensively; The Thunder allowed 110.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. He played only nine games with Ibaka before Ibaka was lost to a knee injury.

8 Comments

  1. KC says:

    If OKC were smart they would not match that sheet. Kanter is a prima donna and plays absolutely zero D

  2. Hypothesis says:

    thunder should let kanter go, granted it’s always nice to get reimbursed for your players, but he brings a offensive game that the thunder really do not need. Lillard can do nice things with kanter. it’s doubtful they’ll make the playoffs even with the addition, but when you have a scorer like Lillard you never know.

  3. Harriethehawk says:

    The Thunder need all the help they can get.

  4. Jazz Fan says:

    If this goes through the Blazers are doomed. Kanter Kant defend. But he is most excellent offensively, he pretty much patterned his game after Al jefferson (both of which don’t defend). Just hope you have someone to defend for Kanter’s lack thereof. Jazz made leaps and bounds when we lost Kanter and gave Rudy Gobert the starting job, defense is always greater than offense. But I really don’t see OKC matching, they didn’t even make playoffs, had they they might match. Portland is desperate, he he.

  5. taekayo says:

    Common stupid mistake of almost any team (except for San Antonio LOL). After they strike-out in getting the top free agents, they get the next crop of players (not even close to the top ones) the same max deal, just to have a post-season acquisition and because they have cap room. The left out players and their agents on the other hand, raise up their value because they are “the only one’s available in the market”. In the end, you get immovable, high-playing, subpar, bench warming players the next 3-4 years. Sometimes, the best move is to wait.

  6. john says:

    please match that offer sheet! keep him off the blazersss…. too many bigs already.

  7. Jared says:

    Don’t match that ridiculous offer sheet. Defensive LIABILITY, and from what most people have said over the years, is that it wins championships. 2 words: Big Kiwi. Higher ceiling, cheaper(via business side), and more engaged in the game. Adios Muchacho. 405…