Hornets Can Get Good Value in the Amnesty Process

Published: July 13, 2012

Brendan Haywood, Luis Scola, Darko Milicic, and Elton Brand are all there for the taking. Will Demps take the plunge into the amnesty abyss?

We have witnessed an offseason that has seen Gerald Wallace get $40 million, Goran Drigic get $32 million, and Nic Batum get $46 million all over 4 years. Michael Beasley is set to receive $6 million per year (even though his last team was far better with him on the bench) and the New Jersey Nets traded for a shooting guard on the backside of his career who is owed nearly $90 million over the next four seasons. The early days of free agency is the time of year that gets fan bases excited, but more often than not they end up cursing these very same contracts a couple of years down the road.

The next few weeks of the offseason is where teams start to get value. All of the big boy contenders are over the cap, and the teams in rebuilding mode have no desire to give minutes to veterans (choosing instead to play young guys), so they stay out of the free agency process for the most part. Good players are still available, however, and the number of good players on the market is actually increasing every day. Teams are allowed to use their one-time amnesty between July 11th and July 17th this year, and so far four teams have chosen to use it to clear space this year.

Here are the players up for bid and the number of years the winning team would be committing to them for:

Elton Brand (1 year)

Darko Milicic (2 years)

Brendan Haywood (4 years)

Luis Scola (3 years)

Now the way that this process works is that all teams that are below the cap are eligible to place a bid on these players. The winning bid will be spread out evenly over the years that the player has remaining on his contract. The bid average per year can be for an amount up to, but not exceeding, the amount of cap space your team currently has available. As Jason documented yesterday, the Hornets have a little over $10 million available, and can therefore be extremely active in this process.

Last year, seven players were amnestied and only two of them received bids- Travis Outlaw and Chauncey Billups. It took just over $2 million to win the rights to Billups, and $4 million a year got Travis Outlaw. With that as the precedent, it seems logical to think that the Hornets could walk away with two of these guys if they decided to be aggressive with their bidding.

Regardless, the teams that win the rights to these players will be getting them below market price – a market that gave Kwame Brown 7 million dollars (for one season) last year. The prize in this group is obviously Elton Brand, a PF/C that had perhaps his best defensive season of his career last year, and who can still score in the post or off the pick and pop. Brand also provides veteran leadership, something that the Hornets desperately need after trading Jarrett Jack earlier this week. Dallas is said to be intrested in Brand’s services, but the Hornets have about three million more in cap space, meaning that they could outbid Dallas if they want him bad enough.

Brenden Haywood is not a starter by any means, but he is a big body that could give a team 15-20 minutes a night. If you can get that for two to three million dollars a year in this market, you take it and run. Same goes for Darko Milicic, who had an extremely disappointing year last year for Minnesota, but was considered a well above average defensive center in years prior. Lastly we have Scola, a player targeted by GM Dell Demps just 8 short months ago. A supremely talented offensive player, Scola was overpaid at $10 mil per year, but could be one of the best bargains in the league at 4-5.

The Hornets are currently very thin in the front court, having only Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Jason Smith there currently. Ideally, the Hornets would find a player who can score in the low post and a player who can defend bulkier low post players. Darko and Haywood can do the latter, Scola can do the former, and Elton Brand can do both. The blind bid process is a tricky one, because you don’t want to lose out on a player you desire by being too frugal, and you don’t want to overpay a guy you could have had much cheaper, but that’s all part of the game. The Hornets have an opportunity to get one or two of these guys for below market value to round out their front court for next season, and possibly beyond.

And as we have seen in the past, you never expect Dealer Dell to pass up a good value.




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