The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday afternoon without the Thunder making a big move.
Ronnie Brewer is coming, a defensive whiz acquired from New York for a future second-round draft pick. He is a relative unknown in these parts, unless you remember him playing at Arkansas or you worship at the House of Sutton — then you know his dad played for Eddie. But if you love Thabo Sefolosha, you're going to love Brewer.
Eric Maynor is going, the third-string point guard shipped to Portland for a trade exception. He hasn't played meaningful minutes for months, the result of never quite returning to form after a devastating knee injury.
But really, neither of those deals is major.
So, why didn't the Thunder strike a big deal?
It all comes down to money.
On a day when no title contenders made any blockbuster moves, the Thunder fell in line. It has decided to basically stay the course with its current collection of players. Same could be said for the Heat and the Spurs and the Pacers and the Clippers and pretty much everyone else in serious contention.
Everyone is mindful of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Here in Oklahoma City, we have long been aware of the punitive nature of the new luxury tax. We became educated about it this past summer with the James Harden contract negotiations, learning more than we probably ever wanted to about the salary cap and the repeater penalties and the like.
Here's a quick refresher.
Under the former collective bargaining agreement, a team paid a dollar for every dollar it went over the salary cap. Exceed the cap by $4 million, and you pay $4 million. Exceed it by $14 million, and you pay $14 million.
But under the new agreement, if you exceed the cap by $4 million, you owe $6 million in luxury tax. And if you exceed it by $14 million, you owe $26.25 million.
As of now, the Thunder is about $1.5 million under the salary cap, so it would owe nothing in luxury taxes.
Which is a good thing. Starting next season, teams that exceed the cap in three of four seasons will be subject to repeater rates. Those rates are even higher.
All of that equates to big money in small-market Oklahoma City, but by the looks of things at this trade deadline, the Thunder isn't the only one concerned about how much it could have to pay in luxury taxes.
Teams everywhere were conservative. There was no blockbuster trade, no big deal that sent a bunch of starters crisscrossing the country to different teams. When the biggest deal that got done involved J.J. Redick and the Milwaukee Bucks, that tells you that there were no big deals.
Is it a bummer for the Thunder?
I would've loved to have seen the Thunder bring in some low-post scoring, and that's coming from someone who has staunchly defended Kendrick Perkins. Clearly, Perk is a great defender, but since Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison are limited in what they do offensively, Perk's lack of offense is glaring.
Acquiring a guy like Marcin Gortat or Al Jefferson would've been a great move for the Thunder.
I'm not saying this trade deadline is a total flop for the Thunder either. Brewer has diamond in the rough written all over him.
Isn't Sam Presti always good at finding a couple of those a year?
And in this case, the Thunder general manager found an unusual partner. In this new world order, the Knicks are shopping the bargain bin, too. They wanted to find a way to avoid going down Luxury Tax Boulevard, and here came Presti with a helping hand.
What the Knicks traded was a former lottery pick, a guy who has started 300-plus games, for a second-round pick they could release if things don't work out. And they could do it all paying a league minimum. First-round picks are guaranteed three years. Second-round picks aren't.
The Thunder was happy to take Brewer off their hands. He is a Sefolosha clone. Same height. Ten pounds heavier. And he likes to dive on the floor and D people up just like Thabo.
Brewer could be especially helpful if the Thunder runs up against the Heat again in the NBA Finals. I have no idea whether Brewer can truly guard LeBron James — I'm not sure anyone can — but Brewer will be a great addition when the Thunder goes small. I suspect he would've come in handy Wednesday night when James Harden was going off for 46 points.
How about Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Kevin Durant, Ibaka, and Thabo and Brewer rotating in against LeBron when the Heat goes small?
Sounds all right, doesn't it?
No doubt the Thunder made a nice move Thursday, but the boys in blue didn't do anything major. No contender did.
Here's hoping the era of big deals being done at the trade deadline isn't over. It was always grand fun seeing what would happen. But if big moves mean big money in luxury taxes, teams just aren't going to risk it.
Making a couple nice moves at the trade deadline might be the new normal.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.