Amnesty 2012: Revisiting the Provision
As the NBA regular season draws closer to an end and teams start focusing more on their offseason plans, the subject of amnesty will once again become a hot topic of conversation. Which teams will use it? And on who? Or will no team use the provision this summer?
Let’s recap the rule: Teams can use the amnesty provision just once during the length of the current collective bargaining agreement. The provision can only be used on players who were under contract with the team at the time the CBA was ratified. Any contract signed after that is not eligible. Any player who is traded is no longer eligible. Teams may only use the provision during the offseason. Players are then put on a special waiver where each of the other 29 teams can submit bids – subject to their salary cap limitations – to claim the player at a given price for the length of the original deal.
After the new CBA was finalized seven teams chose to use the amnesty provision in December of 2011: Cleveland (Baron Davis – 2 years, $28.7 million), Golden State (Charlie Bell – 1 year, $4.1 million), Indiana (James Posey – 1 year, $7.6 million), New Jersey (Travis Outlaw – 4 years, $28 million), New York (Chauncey Billups – 1 year, $14.2 million), Orlando (Gilbert Arenas – 3 years, $62.4 million), and Portland (Brandon Roy – 4 years, $69.5 million).
Each of those players received the full value of their contracts. Of those seven only two were claimed during the waiver process with the L.A. Clippers submitting a $2 million claim on Billups and the Sacramento Kings submitting a $3 million claim on Outlaw. Billups was integral to the Clippers’ hot start, helping them to a 14-6 record in games he played, but after an Achilles’ tear ended his season the Clips have gone just 14-14. Outlaw has been a complete non-factor for the Kings, averaging just 3.2 points and shooting 31% from the field.
Davis (New York) and Arenas (just recently in Memphis) signed minimum salary contracts. Bell, Posey and Roy have not played this season.
There are two major reasons to use the provision: to clear cap space for free agency and to get under the luxury tax. Because teams still have to pay the full value of the contract, even though it no longer counts on the cap or towards the luxury tax (but does count towards the salary floor of 85% of the cap), it’s not an easy decision. To amnesty a player he has to be underperforming his contract by such a large margin that he’s also replaceable for the same or less money. Apart from injured players (like Roy, Arenas or Davis), it’s a tough decision.
So what of the other 23 teams who still have their amnesty provision in their back pocket they can use? Let’s take a look at the players still eligible and who could be on their way out for each of them. (Upcoming free agents will not be listed, since their contracts end before amnesty season opens. Also, while players on rookie scale contracts are eligible it’s extremely unlikely any of them are amnestied.)
Eligible: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague
While Marvin Williams is a player that could be under consideration if the Hawks go the amnesty route, they may be better off holding onto it for the latter years of Johnson’s contract. He will be 34 when the 2015-16 season starts and is on the books for a guaranteed $24.9 million.
Eligible: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley
Pierce is a Boston legend, Rondo is an All-Star, and Bradley on a rookie scale deal; the Celtics will not be using the amnesty provision. Pierce is really the only candidate, but they wouldn’t do that. Right?
Eligible: Corey Maggette, Tyrus Thomas, DeSagana Diop, Matt Carroll, Gerald Henderson
Other than Henderson, the Cats could take their pick of the rest of these deals. Thomas’ is the longest so would have the biggest long-term impact, removing $26.1 million over the next three seasons.
Eligible: Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson
It’s unlikely the league’s best team would use amnesty, at least this season, even just to get under the luxury tax. They will likely save it in case Boozer’s production drops off; he makes $16.8 million in 2014-15.
Eligible: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones
Dirk is untouchable while Beaubois and Jones are on rookie scale deals, which leaves Haywood and Marion. If the Mavericks truly want to go after Deron Williams this offseason, expect them to use amnesty on one of those two.
Eligible: Al Harrington, Chris Andersen, Ty Lawson
Lawson is part of the now and future for Denver, so it won’t be him. Harrington would seem like the logical choice after the contracts recently given to Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. If they re-sign JaVale McGee in free agency either Harrington or Andersen could be out.
Eligible: Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye
Considering Detroit’s record the real question here is why wouldn’t they do something to help the roster?
Eligible: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger
Scola will be 34 when the 2014-15 season begins, the year he is owed $11.0 million. Martin and Lowry have much more value in trade should the Rockets go that route.
Eligible: Mo Williams, Blake Griffin, Ryan Gomes, Eric Bledsoe
Griffin and Bledsoe are not even in the conversation here. Using it on Williams would have twice the impact on next year’s cap space, but the Clips only have seven players on the books anyway so they need bodies and he’s been productive (assuming he picks up his option).
Eligible: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake
Many clamor for the Lakers to use amnesty on World Peace. However, while he’s not the most productive it doesn’t matter who the Lakers used it on, they would still be in the luxury tax unless they used it on Bryant, Gasol or Bynum. As unlikely as it would seem, just keep in mind Bryant makes $30.5 million in 2013-14. He will be 35 when that season starts with over 1,500 games on his legs.
Eligible: Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter
It’s highly doubtful the Grizz use amnesty this summer, but they may in the future on Randolph or Gay if one of them suffers a debilitating rash of injuries. Also, the Grizz are one team adamant about staying below the luxury tax and they already have $62.5 million committed to nine players for next season – and possibly three restricted free agents (O.J. Mayo, Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur).
Eligible: Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman
The HEAT is a tax team through at least 2014-15 unless they amnesty one of the big three. Barring a debilitating injury that’s not going to happen, so using it on someone else gains them nothing.
Eligible: Beno Udrih, Drew Gooden, Shaun Livingston, Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders, Jon Brockman
The Bucks are still $9 million under the cap for next season, so unless they really want to go after a free agent amnesty won’t gain them much. If they were to do so, Udrih’s deal (player option) has just one year and $7.4 million on it).
Eligible: Martell Webster, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, Nikola Pekovic, Wesley Johnson, Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Wayne Ellington
Webster is not guaranteed and Miller will probably retire. Except for Milicic the rest of the players are cheap and/or productive. The emergence of Pekovic could make Milicic an amnesty candidate, though his 2013-14 salary is not fully guaranteed.
New Orleans Hornets
Eligible: Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack
The Hornets only have $36.6 million on their cap for next season, so it’s unlikely they use amnesty.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Eligible: Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich, Eric Maynor, Serge Ibaka
Barring a long-term injury it seems unlikely the Thunder will ever use their amnesty provision.
Eligible: Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday
This really boils down to Iguodala or Brand, but both are key members of the team. It’s unlikely the 76ers use the provision.
Eligible: Marcin Gortat, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, Jared Dudley
The Suns have just $31.8 million on the books for next season, but considering Childress’ poor production he has to be considered a potential candidate for amnesty.
Eligible: John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside
No, the Kings can’t use the provision on Travis Outlaw. Either Salmons or Garcia could be good candidates, but can the Kings really justify paying someone their full contract ($22.7 million for Salmons, $12.5 million for Garcia) to NOT play for them?
San Antonio Spurs
Eligible: Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal
Manu only has one season on his deal and the latter four are fairly cheap. San Antonio’s use of amnesty seems likely to depend on the long-term health of Tony Parker who right now is still an All-Star.
Eligible: Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, James Johnson, Solomon Alabi
There are no clear choices here for the Raptors, which means they will likely hold onto it just in case of a long-term injury to Bargnani, Johnson or Kleiza.
Eligible: Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward
Jefferson and Millsap are the team’s best players while Favors and Hayward are on rookie scale deals, so that leaves Harris and Bell, each with just one year on their contracts.
Eligible: Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford
The latter four here are on their rookie scale deals and Lewis’ deal is only guaranteed for $10 million of the $22.7 million total, so this really boils down to how badly would the Wizards want to rid themselves of Blatche. He has three years and $23.4 million left on his contract.
Which players do you think teams should considering using the amnesty clause on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Follow Jason Fleming on Twitter and hit up his weekly chat Monday at 8pm Eastern.