OKC’s new look with Anthony.

Training Camp has begun and what this means is the next NBA season is close to commencement. For the 2017-2018 season, the calendar begins on October 17 after teams wrap up preseason games days before tip off.

In times like these, all teams have bloated rosters as officials and technical heads file through complementary talents needed to fortify teams for the long haul. Such rosters will be cut to 15 guaranteed spots with two more spots allotted to players on two way contracts per new rules in the NBA.

For folks in Ghana, a lot of attention is on San Antonio Spurs as they look forward to see Amida Brimah make the cut for next season. Despite the increased number of players teams can call on increasing from 15 to 17, some teams in the league are finding it difficult to fill out their rosters with desired players.

With mega rich franchises dotted all over the league’s landscape, paying players isn’t much of a problem; however avoiding tax while doing so is the lingering issue. It is for this reason Oklahoma City Thunder let go off James Harden after paying top dollar to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in previous years. In the 2016 offseason, millions floating around from major broadcasting deals signed by the Association led many top executives blindly to spend lavishly on second and third tier players.

With the spike all but over, teams are avoiding a repeat of that misread to sign players on friendlier contracts. However, some teams are not so lucky getting such bad contracts off their books and that could be a major reason for them to miss respective targets for the next season. Here are teams that are feeling the backlash of a spendthrift 2016 offseason:

Houston Rockets

Back to back Hall of Fame inductees Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady’s former team overpaid three point shooting Power Forward Ryan Anderson last season thanks to a four year deal worth $80 million. Anderson is a good player by all standards but he is by no means a player worthy of a salary in the range of All Star Forward Kevin Love. After an up and down season averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, the former New Orleans player is about to play the second year of the deal which is the main reason Carmelo Anthony couldn’t join Houston.

The only way to create room for Anthony on the roster and salary sheet, was to move Anderson via trade but no team was willing to take the hefty salary for a guy who is in the league because of the emphasis on three point shooting and spaced out offenses. After long and ultimately unsuccessful deliberations, Carmelo moved to Oklahoma City Thunder and that could be what prevents Houston from matching NBA Champions Golden State Warriors.

New York Knicks

From all accounts, the Knicks wanted to move Carmelo badly off its roster following a tumultuous 2016 campaign where he clashed with fired Manager Phil Jackson and fell out with wife LaLa Anthony. With Anthony gone, the Knicks have turned attention to Joakim Noah who signed a four year deal worth $72 million. Unlike Anderson, Noah can’t shoot, is 32 and oft injured and plays for a team that has three young players in his position; Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez and Kristaps Porzingis. With the addition of newbies Tim Hardaway Jnr. and Enes Kanter’s $17 million deals, the Knicks are going to pay taxes as they usually do without much on court success. Far removed from his days with Chicago Bulls, New York could use a lot of his money to pay a younger ready made contributor on a cheap deal.

Los Angeles Lakers

Moving Timofey Mozgov’s toxic contract to Brooklyn Nets to land the 27th pick in this year’s NBA Draft which turned out to be gem Kyle Kuzma, is the reason the Lakers rank low on this list. In the early days of last year’s offseason the team set the tone for the frenzy by signing Mozgov to a four year, $64 million contract. The Lakers topped that a few days later by signing veteran Forward Luol Deng to a four year deal worth $72 million. With the team planning a big swoop of star players like of LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook next season, Deng‘s annual $18 million salary is a big albatross around the neck of Lakers management.

The effects of the huge payout could have whittled down if Deng had stayed fit and produced last season but he didn’t and Magic Johnson’s team for the second time in his career have a liability on its hand to work with.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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