After the league created the amnesty clause in order give teams a way out of horrific contracts they had obligated themselves to pre-lockout, several organizations were chomping at the bit to use it immediately.
Orlando took the opportunity dump Gilbert Arenas and his ridiculous deal while Denver used theirs on Chris Andersen to clear $9 million in cap space. The latter is now part of a championship contender in Miami as a role player on a much less significant salary. There are still 16 teams who haven’t used their amnesty rule and a few who need to go ahead and cash that in.
The following is my list of players who should be amnestied by their teams. The difference between a few of these players and the Elton Brands and Brendan Heywoods that have been amnestied before them is that some of the names I’m going to mention are not a bust. The decision to amnesty player, in my view at least, has to go beyond talent and into whether or not the team is getting their money’s worth out of a player and whether the player is good for the team in the long run from a financial perspective. This list reflects that view.
A key thing to remember here is that the only players eligible to be amnestied are players who signed their deals prior to the 2011-12 NBA season, so your dream scenarios of dumping the bust your team signed last summer won’t work out.
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Temptations to amnesty a superstar have to be checked as well. For example, with the Lakers still possessing their amnesty capability, many have posed the question over whether or not they could amnesty the final year of Kobe Bryant’s contract at $30 million for the year and then just re-sign him on a $2 million salary for the season. The answer is no, because the player can be immediately picked up off waivers by all the other teams in the league, which Bryant almost certainly would with or without a torn achilles.
The team could use the clause on Pau Gasol, but the problem here is that being in the final year of his contract, Gasol’s trade value is massive now. Teams are hunting expiring contracts these days and a $19 million deal is something that several squads wouldn’t mind funding for a season to have all that cap space freed at the end of the campaign. The Lakers are better off trading him than amnestying him.
WHO SHOULD BE AMNESTIED?
1. Tayshaun Prince-Memphis is going to owe Prince $15 million over the next two seasons and is not the scorer they need to balance their ineffective shooting around much of the rest of the floor. The Grizzlies are not a bad team with him out there, but we saw during the postseason that Memphis needed someone other than Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to step up and be the third guy. Mike Conley can do it to an extent, but the Grizzlies don’t need to be paying a guy more than $7 million a year to be a shadow of the defender he was six years ago and score 11 points and 4 rebounds per game. He’s aging, his minutes are decreasing and his health could become a question. Prince is a perfect candidate for the amnesty so that Memphis can dip into free agency and pursue at the very least, a similar player who costs much less.
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2. Kendrick Perkins-I have a hard time imagining a more useless player in the NBA making this much money. Over the next two seasons, Oklahoma City is going to owe $17.5 million to a guy that has very little trade value because he is an average role player. He offers the team nothing offensively and averages one block per game. Some call him a defensive anchor, but I don’t buy it seeing as OKC had the 12th best defense in the league this season. The money they could save amnestying Perkins could be used to find someone who can help fill the third scoring option void left by James Harden’s trade.
3. Kevin Garnett-Yes, Garnett has been a great servant to the Celtics cause, but owing him $23.5 million over the next two seasons as your second highest earner and expecting him to stay healthy is ridiculous. He averaged around 15 points and 8 rebounds per game this season, but for the second straight season missed a chunk of the year with injury problems. His health and his age are a big concern for the team and fans and they should unload him now. The problem with a trade, however, is that the Celtics won’t likely get a fair return on what Garnett means to the franchise, so they should amnesty him just to free the money up and make a run at someone like Al Jefferson in free agency to replace him.
4. Carlos Boozer-While he increased his scoring presence during the playoffs, Boozer has never been able to carry his salary’s portion of the weight for the Bulls. Chicago will owe him $32 million over the next two seasons and as Derrick Rose returns, it’s reasonable to suspect that Boozer won’t top the 16 points and 10 rebounds per game he averaged this season as a focal point of the team’s offense. The fact is the Bulls need a shakeup and with no shortage of money to spend, they could amnesty Boozer and make a run at a player like Josh Smith who might not be a big change statistically from Boozer, but has more range, is four years younger and could be a high flying second fiddle playmaker partner that Rose could thrive with.
5. Drew Gooden-Milwaukee is paying the veteran just over $13 million over the next two seasons and no one knows why. Gooden played in a mere 16 games for the Bucks this season despite not having any reported health issues and averaged just 3.3 points in 9.4 minutes per game in his 16 appearances. With a new coach coming in, maybe the plan for Gooden changes, but it’s doubtful and at 32-years old at the start of next season his value is next to nothing in the trade market. The Bucks need to dump this contract as part of the funds to re-sign J.J. Redick and help bring in new talent.