A closer look at Amnesty

Published: October 2, 2011

I’ve mentioned it on one of the blogs but I’ll go in depth here. I’m not a fan of amnesty. To me, it contradicts what the league is said to be trying to do. Instead of lowering salary, it allows the player to get paid and full AND become a free agent while the big market team that is most likely going to get rid of the player gets lux tax relief, money that would’ve been earmarked for a low revenue team. In short, players and big markets benefit from it while the small market loses out UNLESS there is a specific area in which they can make it work for them. It’s rare but it can happen so I’m going to take a closer look.

Here’s a breakdown of how things should/could shake down for the first five teams in alphabetical order. I’ll look at some of the rest later.


ATLANTA-Some pretty well in the know bloggers have mentioned Joe Johnson as a candidate for amnesty. To me, that’s insane. He’s still the best player on the team and have FIVE years left on his deal for more than $100 million. Do people really think the Hawks are going to pay someone $100 million to do nothing, become a free agent and then beat them in the playoffs? That’s just crazy. Even if the Hawks planned on going into lux tax territory or were a desired FA destination, which they don’t and aren’t, this would be an unbelievably stupid move.

A better candidate would be Kirk Hinrich. This would allow them to resign Jamal Crawford without paying the tax but even that’s a stretch. Hinrich gives them a veteran presence and he’s their best PG. They took the Bulls to 6 games without him, let’s see how far they can go with him.

I say nobody gets cut and they let Crawford walk.


BOSTON-Again, I’ve seen pundits say that Jermaine O’Neal better go. I say that he only has one year on his deal and is the only C they have left on the roster. If the MLE really shrinks to $3 million, are they going to do any better?

Again, no amnesty.


CHARLOTTE-Unless the Bobcats have plans on signing free agents this year, I don’t see them doing anything. Diop and Diaw are overpaid and if CP were a free agent then I could totally see them getting rid of the higher paid guy and offering CP the max. Problem is, the FA’s that they’re targeting are free NEXT summer and those 2 come off the books so there’s no point in getting rid of them now.

A better candidate might be Corey Maggette. He has 2 years left and with his numbers off the books, they could get Howard AND CP. It’s a long shot but at least they can say they tried.

CHICAGO-Here’s where amnesty could make sense. If the cap stays right around where it was last year, I could see the Bulls getting rid of someone like Brewer or Korver and then seeing if they could get a superior player to take the remaining cap money. If JRich comes then he’s a definite upgrade over those guys. Problem is that even with one of those deals off the books, they are unlikely to have enough money to lure someone of JRich’s caliber.

CLEVELAND-Most people will tell you that Jamison should go but again, he has just one year left on his deal and unless the Cavs plan on spending FA money this summer then there’s no point in letting him go. I’d rather keep him and let Thompson come along slowly especially when you consider that there was no summer league.

Baron Davis is a better candidate. He has 2 years left so if they want to go after somebody next summer then it would help to have his deal gone.

This post was submitted by Seattle Needle.


  1. Tim

    October 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I see where you’re coming from. I read that article on Grantland and I didn’t understand how this helped owners conserve money. I kind of like it, but I don’t think it will work.

  2. da ThRONe

    October 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I strongly dislike this. It makes no sense and like you point out it’s these kind of things that’s costing teams money. This doesn’t benefit the 22 of 30 teams crying about losing money.

  3. Seattle Needle

    October 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Exactly. What these writers in general need to understand is that amnesty in general is useless UNLESS you are trying to create cap space or are trying to avoid an extra luxury tax payment. Since most of the teams in the league won’t have a ton of cap space this summer and only a few are in lux tax territory, it just doesn’t make sense. It actually makes more sense to hold on to players in the final year of their deal because those contracts are great for trade purposes.

    One example of amnesty making sense is with Brooklyn and Travis Outlaw. His deal will pay him nearly $7 million NEXT summer when they will be going after Dwight Howard. They are going to need every possible ounce of cap space and freeing themselves of Outlaw will go a long ways towards not only adding Howard but keeping the rest of the roster intact.

    Also, you look at a team well above the lux tax with underachieving players making a ton of money. Orlando comes to mind with Turkoglu and Arenas. Let’s assume that they are $20 million above the tax after hypothetically paying Jason Richardson when the lockout ends. Get rid of Arenas’ $20 million deal and you not only save $20 million in lux tax payments but you receive the payout from tax payers. A savings of $25 million or so makes the amnesty clause pretty worthwhile.

    But that’s really the extent of it. Orlando and the Nets are extreme examples. There are only a few other teams in that type of position so to me, it just doesn’t make sense to do this when the majority of the league won’t benefit from it.

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