Will You Be An Amnesty Clause Victim?

rashard lewis (AP photo via Daylife.com)

With these CBA talks, a new amnesty clause has been among discussions as a new addition to the mix.

This clause would allow for each team to shed one contract outright before next season through a one-time amnesty provision that wipes that contract off a team’s books — even though the player must still be paid.

How sweet would that be?  The ability to just take a contract of an under performing, overpaid player, and be able to have them not count towards the salary cap would be great.  It would be even greater for the player because technically, they would draw the money from their amnesty, and they could sign on with another team.  This would be guaranteed money for these players.

Of course, there are rules that teams want to include where the player can’t be brought in as part of a trade that has a big, bad contract, and then bought off, so to speak.  I think that most of the issues have been ironed out, and since each team only would get to do it once, I think they should be allowed to use it however they see fit.  With that said, if you look at teams and players, there are only a few teams that would actually use this amnesty immediately.  Players that I could see as being targets include:

Atlanta – Marvin Williams
Boston – Jermaine O’Neal
Charlotte – DeSagana Diop or Corey Maggette
Cleveland – Baron Davis
Dallas – Brendon Haywood
Denver – Al Harrington
Detroit – Charlie Villanueva or Ben Gordon
Golden State – Charlie Bell
Indiana – Dahntay Jones
LA Clippers – Ryan Gomes
LA Lakers – Metta World Peace
Miami – Mike Miller
Milwaukee – Beno Udrih
New Jersey – Travis Outlaw
New York – Renaldo Balkman
Orlando – Gilbert Arenas
Philly – Andres Nocioni
Phoenix – Josh Childress
Portland – Brandon Roy
San Antonio – Richard Jefferson
Utah – Mehmet Okur
Washington – Rashard Lewis

As you read through this list, you can get an idea of what is out there in terms of talent versus just plain old overpaid.  I go down this list, and I think of my own Charlotte Bobcats for comparison purposes.  We are trying to go young, and cheap so we can get the rebuilding process done right.  We have made painful trades and moves to cut cost and age, and I really don’t know where we will stand when this season starts.

For my Bobcats, I have listed DeSagana Diop or Corey Maggette as options for us to shed.  Diop was actually starting to show some promise under Coach Paul Silas, but then he ruptured his Achilles tendon and was done for the season.  His value prior to Silas was less than zero in many fans’ books.  Watching him take the court and commit 6 quick fouls and air balling foul shots had everyone calling for his head on a platter.  I was among those folks.  My torment is the curiosity if Coach Silas and Coach Oakley can continue to have Diop play to his strong suits and actually be a benefit to the team.  They did wonders with Kwame Brown, and I don’t know if we might be better off keeping Diop.

Corey Maggette is coming off of a season of less than stellar numbers and some ankle issues.  Will he become that pivotal part that the Bobcats need?  With the contract he’s carrying, I certainly hope so.  This is where the amnesty clause becomes tricky.

The owners are going to have to pay these players whether they are on the roster or not.  That means that you can cut some talent with HUGE paydays that are undeserved to get under cap, or you can cut some long term commitments that are nothing more than an unproven boat anchor, and make cap room for the future.

Since the Bobcats are looking for production on the cheap, I have reason to believe that Jordan would rather pay Maggette to be on the court producing something over Diop on the floor, with the risk of re-injuring himself and not producing.  Also, paying Diop $14mil to not show up for work for the next 2 years wouldn’t hurt quite as bad as paying Maggette close to $22mil to not come to work.

I think Maggette will have a bounce back year and you’ll see him playing at a better level than last year.  I still wonder how the amnesty would work on Diop though, since the last year of his contract is a player option.  If he gets amnesty executed on him, it isn’t really fair that he can choose to make MJ pay him another year because he wants him to.  I guess that will be worked out in the details.  I hate to say it, but I think you may be gone, Gana.

For other teams, the move is almost a no-brainer.  Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw and Gilbert Arenas; you guys might as well plan on moving.  I just don’t see your respective teams keeping you at the pay scale you’re at right now.  As for the rest of the guys on this list, other than a select few, you guys would most likely be part of trades that move you to other teams to make money work out.  At that point, your new team can decide what to do with you.

Rashard, Baron, Brandon, Travis and Gilbert, if you guys are looking for a real estate agent to call to determine where your new home would be, I really think it will be a toss-up as to who would want to pick you up.  I could see Baron Davis in Miami, but what money will he demand?  Gilbert, you didn’t have a stellar season, so I really don’t think you can demand very much money.  I actually think that if the old Agent Zero would return to form, he would be an interesting fit in Charlotte.  Would you take a two-year, $7 mil contract?

At any rate, of the four players I mentioned, I think Rashard Lewis will be the one player who will be able to most likely name his team and name his price, though a more reasonable price it will be.  He had a modest season, but that contract he was under…wow.  Gentlemen, prepare for an address change and a paycheck change, but I got a feeling that 2, maybe 3 of you will have your choice.

Gilbert and Brandon, good luck guys.  I mean that in the nicest of ways though.  Some owner will gamble on Brandon’s knees and Gilbert’s skills one more time.  Just neither of you will get a contract like you had again.  Actually, none of you will.

Want to talk about if-then-else scenarios?  Let’s start with Richard Jefferson.  He’s due almost $9.3mil this season and around $11 million at the end of the contract.  His play isn’t warranting that money, so why not amnesty him?  At one time, he would have been a big name that would not even been considered for amnesty, but with the Spurs beginning to sputter, keeping Jefferson may be a move that they do not want to do for the money he’s tying up.

They could amnesty Jefferson and snag Travis Outlaw.  Maybe that’s the youth movement they need to go in.  Where would Jefferson go?  My guess is that a 10 year vet would be looking to move to a team that is in title contention.  Where might that be?  Well, what teams would be a title contender?  Would he join old friend Jason Kidd in Dallas?  It could be interesting having those two together again.  Nothing refreshes a career like a reunion.

Dallas could use a SF if they don’t keep Caron Butler, but I think that they would be better off just keeping him and using amnesty on Brendon Haywood.  It would just appear that those Texas teams are the homes of creating some really bad contracts (read Diop, Haywood, & Dampier).

Perhaps some dry heat would do Jefferson some good in Phoenix.  Playing with a guard like Steve Nash could revitalize anyone’s career.  Ask Grant Hill about that one!  I just don’t see Phoenix a title contender right now.  They have a lot of great pieces, but I don’t think the next couple years are going to produce a title, unless they snag Marvin Williams, if Atlanta sends him packing via amnesty.

So where would I put Jefferson?  As depth goes, I think he’d be a nice fit off of the bench in OKC.  I just think that he may be the piece needed to come in to give Durant a breather, and it would make the Thunder very strong.  If they can get Jefferson on the cheap, and he can play with anything resembling his form from the days of the Nets, I think that the Thunder could spend the coin on him to make their team one of the stronger ones in the West, and definitely make a run for the title.

Durant is young, but I think having someone behind him like Jefferson would be just what the doctor ordered for that team.  Give Durant a veteran mentor that can show him some tricks of the trade and you’re looking at a definite championship contender in Oklahoma.

I suppose we have to get a CBA agreed on before we start worrying about this stuff, huh?

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.