Which NBA Teams Can Still Use Amnesty?
As the 2013 offseason approaches, I have noticed more and more people pointing to the amnesty clause from the new collective bargaining agreement as a way for their favorite team to get rid of a large contract and become players in free agency.
However, many of these dreamed up scenarios involve teams that have already used their one-time amnesty provision.
Why don’t the New York Knicks just amnesty Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract? How come the Dallas Mavericks won’t amnesty Shawn Marion so that they can sign two max-contract free agents? Won’t the Indiana Pacers amnesty Danny Granger since they’re experiencing so much success without him?
All of these would be legitimate questions if those teams still had the ability to amnesty a player. Once a team uses the amnesty provision on a player, they cannot use it again since it’s a one-time clause.
To refresh everyone’s memory, let’s go over the teams that used their amnesty clause either in the summer of 2011 or 2012.
Brooklyn Nets: Travis Outlaw
Cleveland Cavaliers: Baron Davis
Dallas Mavericks: Brendan Haywood
Denver Nuggets: Chris Andersen
Golden State Warriors: Charlie Bell
Houston Rockets: Luis Scola
Indiana Pacers: James Posey
Los Angeles Clippers: Ryan Gomes
Minnesota Timberwolves: Darko Milicic
New York Knicks: Chauncey Billups
Orlando Magic: Gilbert Arenas
Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand
Phoenix Suns: Josh Childress
Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy
Washington Wizards: Andray Blatche
That’s half of the league that no longer has the option of amnestying a player.
Every single team still has the stretch provision as an option, but that’s different from the amnesty clause. The stretch provision, which was also part of the new CBA, allows a team to stretch a player’s contract over twice the number of years remaining plus one. Teams rushed to amnesty players once the new CBA was ratified, but there’s significantly less interest in stretching a player because it compromises future cap space since you’re paying a portion of the contract for more than twice the number of years.
There are 15 teams that have yet to use their one-time amnesty clause. However, some of these teams have no plans to ever use the provision because their options are severely limited.
Keep in mind, the only players who can be amnestied are ones who were signed to contracts with their respective team prior to the lockout. That means players who were signed over the last two years cannot be amnestied, even if their team hasn’t used the clause. It also means players who were traded over the last two years cannot be amnestied, since the team that acquired them isn’t the same team that inked them to their contract. Because of these filters, the list of players who are eligible to be amnestied is pretty short after two offseasons. By my count, there are only 37 players remaining who are even eligible to be amnestied because players from 15 teams are ruled out after already using the provision and because many players have either signed new deals or been traded in the last two years.
Here are the teams that could still use their amnesty clause along with the players on their roster who are amnesty eligible.
Eligible for Amnesty: Al Horford
Eligible for Amnesty: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley
Eligible for Amnesty: Tyrus Thomas
Eligible for Amnesty: Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah
Eligible for Amnesty: Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe
Los Angeles Lakers
Eligible for Amnesty: Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake
Eligible for Amnesty: Mike Conley and Zach Randolph
Eligible for Amnesty: Joel Anthony, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James
Eligible for Amnesty: Drew Gooden and Larry Sanders
New Orleans Pelicans
Eligible for Amnesty: N/A
Oklahoma City Thunder
Eligible for Amnesty: Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant
Eligible for Amnesty: John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins
San Antonio Spurs
Eligible for Amnesty: Matt Bonner and Tony Parker
Eligible for Amnesty: Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson and Linas Kleiza
Eligible for Amnesty: Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward
Of the players on this list, the only ones who have seriously been mentioned as possible amnesty candidates recently are Kendrick Perkins, Carlos Boozer, Drew Gooden, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake and Tyrus Thomas. It’s possible that several teams on this list decide not to use their amnesty clause.
If a team does want to use the amnesty provision on a player, they must do so during the first seven days that follow the July moratorium. This year, the window for amnestying players will be July 11-17. The amnesty clause is available to teams through the 2015-16 season. After that, it expires.
If a player is amnestied, they will be placed on waivers for 48 hours. During this two-day period, teams that are below the cap can place a bid on the amnestied player.
Teams can place either a full waiver claim or a partial claim. If a team makes a full waiver claim, they are acquiring that player and assuming their full contract as well as all salary obligations associated with that player. If a team makes a partial waiver claim, they’re making a bid at a certain dollar amount. The amnestying team will continue paying whatever portion of the player’s salary that is not paid for by the partial claiming team. Teams submitting a partial claim for a player must have the amount they’re bidding available in cap room.
Full waiver claims obviously take precedence to partial waiver claims, but if no team makes a full claim then the player is given to the team with the highest partial claim. If multiple teams make the same waiver claim, partial or full, the team with the worst record lands the player.
Five players have been claimed off of waivers after being amnestied: Travis Outlaw (Sacramento Kings), Brendan Haywood (Charlotte Bobcats), Luis Scola (Phoenix Suns), Elton Brand (Dallas Mavericks) and Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers).
If a player isn’t claimed off of waivers, only then do they become an unrestricted free agent so, contrary to popular belief, amnestied players don’t automatically get to choose where they sign next.
If a team waives a player with the amnesty clause, they cannot reacquire the player until the contract they amnestied has come off of their books.