Amnesty cuts won't be as deep as you think

Amnesty cuts won't be as deep as you think

With the new amnesty clause allowing teams to use the amnesty clause on any player presently on their roster at any point during their contract, the amnesty cuts immediately available won't be nearly as many as most observers think.

People need to remember that using the amnesty clause does not save you any money unless you are in the luxury tax. It's viewed as a "Get out of Jail free" card, but it really isn't since teams still need to pay the player.

As such, using the clause only makes sense in three circumstances:
1: A player is vastly overpaid and the team is in the luxury tax

2: A player is vastly overpaid and cutting him would get the team below the cap enough to use some cap space. However, this isn't a strong free agent year, and tons of teams have cap space rendering this point largely moot.

3: A player has completely worn out his welcome, and the team wants him gone.

The vast majority of teams have little incentive to cut someone. Remember, they still have to pay the salary, so someone being a bad contract [even a really bad one] doesn't mean they should be waived if they still provide at least some on court value and the team isn't paying the tax and can't reallocate the salary.

Also, it's worth noting that the NBA put in a provision to stop the amnesty clause from becoming a rich get richer clause. There will now be a waiver process to claim amnestied players, but unlike a standard waiver process, the claiming team does not need to take on all of the salary but just bid on how much salary they'll take.

Waiver claiming teams must be under the cap, so the Bulls/Heat will not be eligible. It's unlikely that anyone worthwhile makes it through the waiver process. While the rule is worded in the memo in such a way that you can claim a player for $1, I predict in the actual CBA the provision will force a "vet minimum" claim so the cap number can't be below what the player would normally make.

If you can bid on Rip Hamilton for the vet minimum for two years why wouldn't you? If nothing else, you can then use that as trade leverage to a team like Chicago or Miami to extract a pick for his services. Given the new claiming process, I'd expect anyone even mildly interesting to be picked up via waiver claim.

The amnesty deadline is before the season tips off which gives little incentive for any team to amnesty a useful player early on in the process. Teams with somewhat useful players will look to try and trade guys or make moves for a few weeks only using the clause on Christmas Eve after everything else inevitably falls through.

I view looking for players via amnesty as a completely futile exercise that should not be bothered with or considered since you'll miss free agency if you wait around. However, if you're still interested in the amnestied players, here's a list of whom I think will be available and why breaking down each team.

The quick predictions [in order of usefulness]
Richard Hamilton, Brandon Roy, Luke Walton, Memhet Okur, DaSagana Diop

Hamilton and Roy would likely have claims put on them, the other three would be more likely to make it through the waiver process though Okur might have a claim put on him if he doesn't intend to retire [of course Utah may keep him in that scenario anyway].

Atlanta Hawks:
Candidates: Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson [in the future, not now]

They could use their amnesty on Marvin Williams which would give them room to resign Jamal Crawford, but there's a good chance they'll want to save the clause to use on Joe Johnson in another 2-3 seasons when he declines and gets towards the end of his deal.

Prediction: None.

Boston Celtics
No candidates

Charlotte Bobcats
Candidates: DaSagana Diop, Boris Diaw

Diop is the worst contract, but Charlotte is in no danger of being in the luxury tax and Diaw gives them more cap relief this year and would put them around 17 million in cap room. If they wanted to use their cap space cutting Diaw makes more sense, but he's a somewhat useful player whereas Diop is dead space.

Prediction: Diop

Chicago Bulls
Candidates: Carlos Boozer

The Bulls won't amnesty Boozer this year, but it's easy to see them doing so in a couple of seasons if his play doesn't pick up considerably.

Prediction: None.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Candidates: Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis.

They can cut Davis now, and let Jamison expire and have tons and tons of cap room in two years. They would gain more cap room by waiving Jamison now, but that only makes sense if they had someone to spend it on. The only real question is whether they cut Davis now or next year, and I predict next year as he can still help them some immediately.

Prediction: None

Dallas Mavericks
Candidates: Brendon Haywood

The Mavs are deep in the luxury tax and need to bring back a whole ton of people from the championship team if they want to compete again. Brendan Haywood is vastly overpaid and didn't add much to the team. The only question is whether they cut him now or cut him in a couple of years. I predict a couple of years, especially since he could go to Miami and strengthen them somewhat.

Prediction: None

Denver Nuggets
Candidates: Al Harrington

The Nuggets are well under the cap, so there's not much incentive to let Harrington go now as they likely won't be able to immediately utilize the cap space anyway. Harrington is a candidate to get cut if at some point there is someone else they can bring in, but he's not drastically overpaid at his present salary anyway.

Prediction: None

Detroit Pistons
Candidates: Rip Hamilton, Charlie Villaneuva, Ben Gordon

I really only list BG and CV because others do. I don't see a lot of incentive for Detroit to amnesty either. Both add at least some minimal value to the team whereas Hamilton is adding nothing and led a revolt against your coach. Hamilton is the guy they want gone. Remember they're still paying the guys either way, and Hamilton's cap hit is the biggest anyway giving them the most FA room.

Prediction: Hamilton

Golden State Warriors
Candidates: Charlie Bell, Andris Beidrins

Beidrins would get them deep under the cap to sign a new player, but there probably isn't enough FAs to go for that given Beidrins still has some value. Charlie Bell could give them some room, but they might not bother if they don't feel they can use it.

Prediction: None

Houston Rockets
Candidates: Hasheem Thabeet

They don't have any long term salary, Thabeet they could let go this year if they can do something with the cap space, but they probably can't, so they probably won't. They'll likely save it as a hedge vs Scola hitting a decline late in his contract.

Prediction: None.

Indiana Pacers
Candidates: James Posey, Dahanty Jones

The Pacers are so far beneath the cap that cutting Posey might hurt them because they'll have to increase salary. Jones could be a cut if they wanted to maximize room next year, but his salary is really paltry anyway.

Prediction: None.

L.A. Clippers
Candidates: Ryan Gomes, Chris Kaman

Kaman would provide immediate cap relief, but there isn't much out there to use it on. Cutting Gomes would put them 4 million further under the cap next year with legit stars available. They could cut him now, but there's not much incentive to do so, so if they need the room I think next year is more likely.

Prediction: None

L.A. Lakers
Candidates: Luke Walton, Ron Artest

The Lakers don't need Walton at all, so he seems like a lock. Artest would save them more money, but he's at least somewhat viable on the court.

Prediction: Luke Walton

Memphis Grizzlies
Candidates: None

The Grizzlies will likely want this clause for Gay or Randolph in the future, and they absolutely won't use it now.

Prediction: None

Miami Heat
Candidates: Mike Miller

They will likely use the clause on Mike Miller eventually, but I don't think they'll do so this year. Miller still helps them on the court, and they won't be deep in the luxury tax. Miami will be going to win titles and won't likely jettison anyone who could help them just to save a few million dollars. If Miller proves unproductive again this season and falls out of the rotation he'll be gone next year though.

Prediction: None.

Milwaukee Bucks
Candidates: Drew Gooden, Benu Udrih

The Bucks don't necessarily have a lot of incentive to use the clause now unless they feel they can reallocate it under the cap this year. If so, then Udrih would probably be let go otherwise they'll hold out and save it to use on Gooden later in his deal when he becomes even more useless.

Prediction: None.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Candidates: Darko?

I don't think they have any true candidates. Darko might be the most appealing, but Minnesota has little to gain by using the clause right now on anyone as there isn't a great free agent pool to use the extra space on, and they aren't anywhere near the cap.

New Jersey Nets
Candidates: Travis Outlaw

They could use the clause on Outlaw now, but there's no incentive to really do so. Instead, I look for them to see if Outlaw can rebuild some trade value with his play this year. If he's still a train wreck then they can cut him next year when they attempt to lure FAs to play with Deron Williams.

Prediction: None.

New Orleans Hornets
Candidates: Trevor Ariza, Jarret Jack

The Hornets wouldn't save tax money or gain cap room by using the clause so it makes little sense for them to do so. Jack and Ariza are probably a bit overpaid, but neither by so much that it makes sense to dump them with the amnesty clause given the lack of upside in doing so.

Prediction: None.

New York Knicks
Candidates: Renaldo Balkman

The Knicks want to maximize their cap room for 2012 free agency, so waiving Balkman would allow them to do that. I don't think they'll do it this year though, they'll wait until next year. On the chance that his number doesn't make a difference then they'll keep the clause around to wipe out Melo or Amare if they end up as killer deals in 2-3 seasons.

Prediction: None.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Candidates: None.

They'll look to save the clause to use on Perkins later if he's not playing well towards the end of his deal and if other players push them towards the luxury tax.

Prediction: None.

Orlando Magic
Candidates: Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu

The only way Gilbert isn't a goner is if they figure out how to package him in a trade for Howard and then use the clause on Turkoglu in a rebuilding effort instead. Odds of that are very small as I can't see Orlando possibly trading Howard this season and waiving Arenas saves them a huge luxury tax bill.

Prediction: Arenas

Philadelphia 76ers
Candidates: Elton Brand, Andris Nocioni

They could gain some serious cap room by letting go of Brand, so if they play the market it's not inconceivable they let him go to sign someone else, but it's a bit of a stretch given the quality of the FA market this year. They could also ditch the vastly overpaid Nocioni, but to what end? He's better as a role player than paying him to go away.

Prediction: None

Phoenix Suns
Candidates: Josh Childress

Unlikely they give up on Childress this early, especially given that they won't be paying the tax or get far enough under the cap to do anything with the money if they do. Instead, with Carter likely on his way out, they'll probably hope he becomes a viable player to trade or keep.

Prediction: None

Portland Trailblazers
Candidates: Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby

Brandon Roy looks like a shell of his former self, and it's unlikely with his degenerative knees that it will ever get much better. The Blazers could cut him for the future cap relief given the number of years on his contract left. It will be difficult to carry that much bad salary for that long. They could also consider cutting Camby instead which would get them under the tax this season, but I think they have to cut Roy to build for the future, and they have a luxury tax incentive to do it this year.

Prediction: Brandon Roy

Sacramento Kings
Candidates: John Salmons

The Kings have no need to gain cap room by cutting Salmons and will need to add considerable salary to get up to the minimum. As such, they may use the clause on Salmons, but it won't be this year.

Prediction: None.

San Antonio Spurs
Candidates: Richard Jefferson

The Spurs are over the luxury tax and Jefferson's contract was ridiculously stupid when they signed it. I expect the Spurs to pay the tax and keep Jefferson for this year given that they won't be that deep into the tax and they'll need to spend far more than that amount to replace him in future years.

Prediction: None.

Toronto Raptors
Candidates: None.

You could argue for Kleiza or Calderon, but what else could they really do with the money? There's no luxury tax in sight, so unless they have a viable plan to reallocate it makes little sense to remove either guy.

Prediction: None.

Utah Jazz
Candidates: Mehmet Okur

Okur is likely done in the NBA, so they might as well gain his cap number back and spread out his payments over two years.

Prediction: Okur

Washington Wizards
Candidates: Rashard Lewis

Lewis makes a truckload of cash, but he's not a useless basketball player. They could use the clause on him, but to what end? They'd need to spend an extra 20 million afterwards to get up to the league minimum payroll. They aren't likely to reallocate the money in a useful way this year, so they might as well keep Lewis around.

Prediction: None.


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  • I doubt Haywood would be available to miami after the bid process.

  • In reply to soldier01:

    Definitely true, I wrote that part before learning of the bid process and didn't go back and re-edit the whole thing.

  • It sure is great to be talking Bulls basketball agin, Doug! Look forward to your piece tomorrow about how the team can go all in.

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    What about Rodney Stuckey? Not a great three point shooter but Detroit doesnt need him and would fit our need at two guard/combo. Does midlevel (or less) get him to Chicago?

  • In reply to MobtownLarry:

    I'm down with that.

  • In reply to MobtownLarry:

    Restricted free agent which means bidding on him will be dicey, and he doesn't really fit what we need either. Not a defender, not good off the ball.

  • Doug, perhaps you've done this and I missed it, but following up on this article, I would love to see a breakdown of the Bulls' roster and salary moving ahead with the new CBA. How much they're over, what exceptions they qualify for, whom they're interested in as trade or FA targets, etc. Do you have anything like this in the works?


  • In reply to stakfry526:

    I will probably have something very similar to that tomorrow with all kinds of different salary possibilities on what could happen in "if then" scenarios.

    If not tomorrow, certainly soon, just depends if I have enough time to compile all the data tonight.

  • As one of the significant features/questions in the wake of the new/coming CBA, Amnesty for rabid NBA/Bulls fans needed clarity. Thanks for the breakdown Doug. I just wonder do all teams really act logically in novel situations like an amnesty? Maybe at least one surprise or two awaits.

    Interesting about Roy. I wonder if after one poor season the medical(microfracture) prognosis is really as certain/fatal to Roy's career as it seems. If ever there was an anti-McGrady that begged for someone to take a chance on him this might be the guy. If there's bidding I'd certainly be tempted to take on at least a small portion of his salary provided the Bulls can make the needed cap space available. Any chance at all Miami tries to get him on the cheap?

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