The NBA Amnesty Watch List
One of the intriguing aspects of the new collective bargaining agreement is the ability for NBA teams to use the amnesty clause, giving teams a one-time opportunity to waive a player currently under contract and not have that salary count for cap and tax purposes. A handful of teams utilized this option already, such as the Orlando Magic parting ways with Gilbert Arenas and the Portland Trail Blazers amnestying Brandon Roy.
Now, with a busy offseason coming up, there are many teams who may decide to use their amnesty clause as they continue to improve their squad, no matter where they fall in the NBA landscape. HOOPSWORLD takes a look at a handful of teams who may use this option and which players may make sense to part ways with going forward.
Mike Miller – Miami HEAT
The Miami HEAT thought about using the amnesty clause on Mike Miller last offseason, but could not bring themselves to do it before the season began. He, obviously, is an important part to what Miami does on the court, helping to stretch the floor and create driving lanes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, as much as Miami enjoys Miller, it is difficult to justify the amount of money he puts against the salary cap compared to the number of minutes he plays.
The HEAT are well-aware there are plenty of players in the latter stages of their respective careers either looking for a championship or hoping to add one more ring to their collection before heading into the sunset. Players linked to Miami have included Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter. While any of these players would have to take a significant pay cut to join Miami, using the amnesty clause on Miller would help create more space to add a veteran or two.
John Salmons – Sacramento Kings
Salmons, who averaged 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2 assists in 27 minutes per game, was the highest-paid player on the Sacramento Kings for the 2011-12 NBA season. The Kings have some decisions to make this offseason, including whether they should the amnesty clause on Salmons.
The Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette last summer and he had a solid rookie season, which makes Salmons even more expendable. Fredette has weaknesses in his game, but he puts up very comparable numbers to Salmons and does so with a much cheaper price tag. Francisco Garcia is another option for the Kings to use the amnesty clause on, but with the minimum salary level in the new CBA, the decision would have to be made in order for the Kings to address other offseason areas. That is one major reason why Salmons gets the nod over Garcia.
Rashard Lewis – Washington Wizards
Most everyone expected the Wizards to utilize the amnesty clause on Rashard Lewis almost immediately after they were able to do so, but Washington held onto him for the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Now, after a season in which he was only able to play in 28 games, it may be even more likely to see Washington take the opportunity to get his contract officially off their books. After all, Lewis was the second-highest paid player in the entire NBA during the 2011-12 season, trailing only Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure, the Washington Wizards may look to trade Lewis, believing some team out there will want to shed salary since his contract ends after the 2012-13 season. However, it is very difficult to imagine any team making a trade for Lewis since even the buyout of his contract is a very pricey $13.7 million. After double-checking around the league to ensure that nobody wants to take on Lewis’ contract via a trade, the Wizards will eventually pull the trigger and use the amnesty provision on the veteran. They will have to work quickly since Lewis must be bought out by June 30. When the amnesty provision was added to the new CBA, there’s a reason that many unofficially named it the “Rashard Lewis rule.”
Marvin Williams – Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have been a team stuck in limbo for quite a few years. They have a solid core of players in Al Horford, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, but haven’t been able to put together a solid group of complementary players around them. One of the main reasons for that is the contract of Marvin Williams, who, quite simply, has never lived up to his high selection in the draft or the amount of money he makes.
With Johnson and Horford locked up for a number of years, the Hawks are going to have to address Josh Smith’s contract soon, which expires after the 2012-13 season. He is their best player and they must find a way to keep him in their uniform, but it will be difficult to do so without either finding a way to finally part ways with Williams, whether through a trade or via the amnesty clause. While there may be teams out there interested in Williams as a player, his contract is not a desirable one and it makes it more likely he leaves Atlanta through amnesty.
Corey Maggette – Charlotte Bobcats
Everyone is aware of the dreadful season the Charlotte Bobcats just concluded, setting the all-time record for the worst winning percentage in a single season. It is an understatement to say the Bobcats have a number of areas in which they must improve immediately and, as is always the case, finding ways to free up money for free agents is an important step for Charlotte. With how historically bad the team was this season, they are more than likely going to have to overpay to get free agents. Using the amnesty clause on Corey Maggette would free up a significant chunk of money for just that.
Maggette is a very solid NBA player and would have plenty of teams interested in his services, but as is the case with all players on this list, his contract brings up problems with teams trying to get situated with the new CBA. Therefore, it is unlikely any team would make a trade to bring in Maggette’s contract, even though it expires after the 2012-13 season. It would not be surprising to see a contender pick up Maggette after the Bobcats use the amnesty provision on his contract, allowing him the freedom to become a solid contributor elsewhere.
Who would you add to the amnesty watch list, NBA fans? Most teams still have this option at their disposal.