NBA PM: Who Gets NBA Amnesty?
If the NBA drastically reduces the salary cap for next season, as is expected, many teams are going to face the challenge of getting under the new cap with existing contracts that put them over. One of the solutions on the table is the previously Amnesty Rule, where a team could pay off one player their remaining salary and waive them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the players who might find themselves in that situation in the near future:
Gilbert Arenas – Orlando Magic
The first name most people will think of when they hear that an amnesty clause is in effect will be Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas. It makes sense, too; after all, we’re talking about a guy who gets paid $20 million a year to average 10 points per game. Not a bad gig if you can get it. Sources close to the situation have told HOOPSWORLD that the Magic don’t want to pay Arenas roughly $60 million to go away, but we can’t help but wonder if that’s true, given the state of their roster.
Boris Diaw – Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats have made every effort to unload all of their veterans and start a hard core youth movement, but one veteran remains. They’ve traded or jettisoned Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, who were at the heart of their playoff run two seasons ago, so only Boris Diaw is still waiting around for a trade. There is a still a chance the Bobcats can move Diaw, especially since his $9 million contract expires at the end of the season, but given their repeated and unsuccessful attempts to trade Diaw, he might also be a prime candidate to be amnestied.
Brendan Haywood – Dallas Mavericks
When the Dallas Mavericks signed Brendan Haywood to a huge six-year contract worth nearly $10 million per season they did so because they thought they had found their starting center of the future. Through a fortuitous chain of events they were later able to add Tyson Chandler, as well, but Haywood was told the starting position was his to lose, and few believed Chandler would prove to be a godsend for the Mavs. As it turned out, Haywood lost his starting spot during training camp and spent the 2010-11 season in and out of head coach Rick Carlisle’s doghouse. If there is a poster child for the amnesty clause, Haywood is that poster child.
>Luke Walton – Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are never opposed to spending money, but if they want Walton off their roster badly enough – and the trade rumors have been rampant – they could just pay him the roughly $11 million left on his deal and let him walk. When he’s healthy, Walton is a decent contributor. He just hasn’t been healthy in a while and the Lakers have long since moved on.
Mike Miller – Miami HEAT
There are plenty of people who would put Mike Miller on this list and never think twice about it. He signed a long-term deal with Miami worth roughly $30 million and then had one of the worst years of his career last season. But Miller had a lot going on last season with his daughter’s health issues and his own injuries. It’s probably too early for the HEAT to give up on Miller, no matter how much they might need the cap space.
Reynaldo Balkman – New York Knicks
Once upon a time Renaldo Balkman looked like he might be a special player in the NBA. He had some of those intangible qualities that every championship team needs. He was a little bit Dennis Rodman, a little bit Jerome Kersey, perhaps a little big DeShawn Stevenson. He made the hustle plays on both ends of the court and created extra possessions for his team. But something happened to Balkman between being drafted and actually putting on his first uniform. He’s only making a little more than $3 million over the next two seasons, but at this point he seems to be wasting a roster spot.
There’s certainly no guarantee that there will be a new amnesty provision this season, and if there is it’s far from being a perfect solution. The thing teams have to keep in mind is that once they pay their players to walk away they can take a minimum deal from any other team in the league and essentially be paid by one team to play for another. No one is more aware of this than Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who paid off Michael Finley with the first amnesty provision only to see him beat the Mavs in the playoffs and win a championship on Cuban’s dime. If the Mavs waive Haywood there is a very good chance he would land in Miami . . .and potentially compete against the Mavs in the Finals at some point.
Still, if the new CBA brings a lower salary cap and teams are desperate to shed contract dollars, it can be a valuable tool. It remains to be seen whether or not teams will have that option going forward.
Italy Still In Play
With each passing day it sounds less and less likely that Kobe Bryant is going to become an integral part of Italian basketball. Talks have gone from the entire Italian league reorganizing its schedule to maximize the exposure of the NBA’s biggest star to now just talking about having Bryant play in one exhibition game.
That doesn’t mean Italy has given up on luring NBA stars to its teams.
Today Sportando reports that Toronto Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani is close to a deal with Virtus Roma.
“We have been talking with Andrea Bargnani,” said Claudio Toti, owner of the team. “In my opinion, if he decides to play in Italy, he will sign just with us. Even if we had agreed on the salary, the biggest hurdle is the insurance to cover his contract with Toronto Raptors. It is three weeks I am waiting to know the exact amount of money needed for the insurance. Of course, if Bargnani arrives, I need help from sponsors and I want him not to sell jerseys or more tickets, I want to him for winning games.”
It makes sense – Bargnani was born and raised in Rome.
If talks between the NBA owners and players continue to stagnate, don’t be surprised if more and more players start to accept overseas deals. This is the time when players normally start to prepare their bodies for the rigors of the NBA season, and if they’re not going to do it in training camp and preseason they’ll be looking for other places to hone their skills. Italy certainly hopes to be a landing spot for a significant number of those players.
Bernie Fryer to Step Back
Don Vaden has been named the NBA’s Vice President, Director of Officials, it was announced today by Joel Litvin, NBA President, League Operations. Vaden will succeed Bernie Fryer as Director of Officials and will be responsible for the day-to-day management and on-court performance of the officiating staff, reporting to Ron Johnson, NBA Senior Vice President, Officiating.
“Bernie will remain an integral part of the referee operations staff,” Litvin said. “However, he has battled health issues that, while under control, make him better suited for a development role that will require less travel. In Don Vaden, we are fortunate to have an experienced former referee who has worked in our officiating program for the past nine years and is fully prepared to assume Bernie’s role as manager of our referees.”
In his 15-season officiating career with the NBA, Vaden officiated 854 Regular Season games and 59 Playoffs and Finals games before retiring in 2002. Over the past nine years, Vaden has served in various management roles in the NBA’s officiating program and has served as the director of officiating at numerous NBA summer leagues, training NBA and NBA D-League referees.
In his role as Director, Referee Development, Fryer will mentor and evaluate NBA officials and scout potential new officials.
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