A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Is the Oklahoma City-Josh Huestis “domestic draft and stash” agreement rational?

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Josh Huestis becoming the first “domestic draft and stash” player has become a hot button topic the last week. Effectively, Oklahoma City promised to take Huestis 1st round with the 29th pick, if he would take a $25,000 D League salary his first year instead of taking a rookie salary and roster spot with the Thunder. Presumably he’d then get a longer contract starting in 2015-2016 or later.

Is this a rational decision for either side?

Josh Huestis

According to reports, Huestis wasn’t sure he’d be drafted at all. By getting drafted 1st round and making some sort of agreement with the Thunder, he may have thought he’d be guaranteeing a longer NBA contract/career more this way. There’s a “code of honor” between NBA teams, players and agents that would make it sketchy if OKC didn’t honor Huestis’ agreement by signing him next year, no matter how he plays in the D League. There’s the risk of injury and the fact that Huestis may have made more money in Europe or as a 2nd round prospect for someone else, but I can see where Huestis is coming from here logically. Considering how likely it is OKC honors this agreement in my opinion, it’s a small risk for Huestis, but with a significant reward if he does get the guaranteed 1st round deal eventually.

Oklahoma City

It’s on the Thunder’s end I have a lot of questions. First of all, it’s unclear to me why developing Huestis in the D League is better than sending him or another prospect to Europe for a year, where NCAA players as well as international picks can be stashed. If one of the motives for stashing Huestis in the D League would be to delay his post rookie contract a year, this also could have been achieved by sending a prospect to Europe. Secondly I’m not sure why Oklahoma City couldn’t fit another roster spot for a young player, whether on their roster or sending him to the D League with a rookie scale deal. Hasheem Thabeet is still on the roster, despite the Thunder having Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary as the presumed C options in front of him. Thabeet also has an unguaranteed deal, causing no financial cost to waiving him. From my perspective, having Thabeet on this roster is utterly pointless (to be fair, they may still waive him yet). They also used a roster spot by signing a replacement caliber PG in Sebastian Telfair and signed Grant Jerrett, a 2nd round stretch big man who will struggle to get minutes over any of Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary, Serge Ibaka, Perry Jones III. The Thunder are not such a deep team that they can’t afford using a roster spot on another rookie.

All in all, I just don’t see the “upside” of choosing this path for Huestis compared to just sending him to Europe or having him on the roster next year. So what’s the downside? It depends on how much they valued Huestis. If they really valued him as the best prospect available at the 29th pick, there isn’t anything wrong with choosing this path of paying him, even if it’s a weird detour. If they saw another prospect as best player available and saw Huestis as 2nd round caliber, but picked Huestis over him to save the money and roster spot – it’s an absurd draft decision. Drafting the best prospect with this pick, is so much more valuable than whatever they gain from stashing Josh Huestis. The Thunder desperately need the cheap contributors on rookie deals along with the trade assets to find better veterans around their stars. Even the 29th pick is too valuable asset to mess around like this with. How rational a decision this is likely depends on how close to best player available Huestis was with the 29th pick. The more prospects the Thunder had rated ahead of him in a vacuum, the more irrational a decision it was.

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Written by jr.

July 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

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