How The Proposed Amnesty Clause Could Hurt The Kings

Last week, Ziller wrote about a proposed amnesty clause that could appear in the next CBA, and how it could positively help the Kings. There is no doubt that an increase in the quality (and quantity) of a somewhat mediocre free agent class could help the Kings at least somewhat, considering that they might be able to land someone that they otherwise wouldn't have.

I understand where TZ is coming from, but I don't see an amnesty clause helping the Kings out very much. The Kings have spent the last few years cleaning house, ridding themselves of bad contracts, and gaining flexibility in the process. As such, they currently have the most cap space of any team in the league heading into free agency of 2011, and considering the salary cap likely will be a lot harder (if not hard) in the next CBA, the ability to offer more becomes a lot more attractive.  The amnesty clause doesn't take this advantage away completely, but it does diminish it.

Players cut by amnesty will still be getting paid their old contracts (they just won't be on their old team's salary cap), which means we'll see a lot of players flock to the contenders in order to chase a ring for minimum deals.  This is basically what happened the last time the league had an amnesty clause, back in 2005.  Michael Finley is a great example as he signed with San Antonio for the veteran's minimum after being waived by Dallas under the amnesty provision.

That 2005 amnesty clause was different than this proposed one is, too. That amnesty only removed a player's hit on the luxury tax, so only the teams with huge payrolls took advantage of it. Considering this rumored proposal completely eliminates a player's salary from the salary cap and not just the luxury tax, I expect most teams will take advantage of this opportunity, leading to more free agents who will be able to play for less money in order to chase a ring.

Not all free agents will opt to go play for contenders however. Still, with an amnesty clause we'll see a lot more teams with space, cutting off bad contracts and giving the Kings more competition in the market. Washington is an extreme example: Currently, they have about $43.6 million in salary on the books for the 2011-12 season. The Kings are about $11 million under that. But with amnesty, the Wizards are able to shed an extra $21 million in Rashard Lewis. The same goes for other teams, as amnesty will give them more space.

Amnesty could give the Kings more space too, but will they take advantage of it? The biggest cap cut would be John Salmons, but management really seems to want him on the team.  Cisco is the only other logical choice, but even cutting him would offer minimal cap relief, and the overall benefit might be marginal, considering Cisco's rapport with his teammates.

Finally, you have to look at the players that will be cut by amnesty to see if any of them could actually help Sacramento, and if Sacramento would actually want them.

  • Atlanta: Marvin Williams (3 years, $25 million).  They're not going to amnesty Joe Johnson.  Otherwise they just wouldn't have re-signed him last year.  Williams has been a disappointment, and using the amnesty clause on him still saves them quite a bit of money. 
  • Boston: Jermaine O'Neal maybe, although he's just an expiring contract at $6.3 million.  They could theoretically amnesty Garnett, at $21.2 million, but considering he and Allen are both in the final years of their deal, I don't see why they do that.  They'll try for at least one more run at the title with this core, and besides, they're one of the teams that look to benefit from free agent additions thanks to an amnesty clause.
  • Charlotte: Desagna Diop (2 years, $14.3 million), Tyrus Thomas (4 years, $33.4 million), Boris Diaw (1 year, $9 million), Corey Maggette (2 years, $21.2 million). The Bobcats have some bad contracts, but the worst has to be Diop's.  Diop has few redeeming qualities, unlike the other possible cuts.
  • Chicago: They don't really have any.  What, you think they'd amnesty Boozer? No.  They will benefit from other teams cuts though, particularly since they're looking for a quality SG to relieve some pressure off Rose in the backcourt.
  • Cleveland: Baron Davis (2 years, $28.7 million), Antawn Jamison (1 year, $15.1 million).  Cleveland would make out like Bandits if they got to use amnesty on Baron Davis, since they'll essentially have gotten Kyrie Irving for an expiring contract.  Jamison provides bigger relief in the short term, but I have to think Davis is the one let go since his contract is longer and it also hands the reigns to Kyrie.
  • Dallas: Brendan Haywood (4 years, $34.8 million), Shawn Marion (3 years, $25.2 million).  Dallas signed Haywood before trading for Tyson Chandler, and right now he's their insurance in case Chandler leaves.  Marion is older, but he's also more productive, and played a key role in Dallas' title run.
  • Denver: Al Harrington (3 years, $20.3 million), Chris Andersen (3 years, $15.6 million).  I didn't understand Denver signing Al Harrington last summer and I still don't understand. Cut him loose.
  • Detroit: Rip Hamilton (2 years, $21.5 million), Ben Gordon (3 years, $37.2 million), Charlie Villanueva (3 years, $24.2 million).  This is an interesting situation as there are three very deserving candidates.  Villanueva is probably the least productive, but he's also the cheapest.  I'd think the Pistons would look to part ways with Hamilton, especially considering his role in last year's Piston's mutiny.  It also opens up minutes for Ben Gordon to finally go out and earn his contract.
  • Golden St.: Andris Biedrins (3 years, $27 million).  Biedrins has played miserably ever since receiving his big extension.  His salary off the books gives the Warriors some cap room to play with (perhaps even to find another, better center) and also gives more minutes to last year's lottery pick, Ekpe Udoh.
  • Houston: Hasheem Thabeet (2 years, $11.6 million).  Technically this is only a 1-year, $5.6 million contract if Houston doesn't pick up the team option, but Daryl Morey likes keeping onto his assets and obviously sees something in Thabeet.  Still, I don't see them simply releasing Kevin Martin or Luis Scola so Thabeet makes the most sense to me.
  • Indiana: James Posey (1 year, $7.6 million).  Indiana already has a bunch of space cleared up for this summer and losing Posey would only add to it.  More competition for Sacramento.
  • L.A. Clippers: Chris Kaman (1 year, $12.7 million), Mo Williams (2 years, $17 million).  The Clippers are a weird situation.  On the one hand, Kaman gets injured quite a bit and they're seemingly investing in DeAndre Jordan as their center of the future.  On the other, Kaman is probably more valuable as a trade chip than Mo Williams is.  Either way, more space for a young Clippers team that might actually start attracting free agents to play with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon.
  • L.A. Lakers: Metta World Peace (3 years, $21.8 million), Luke Walton (2 years, $11.5 million).  If I had to guess, I think the Lakers would cut Walton. He doesn't provide nearly the value that Ron/Metta/Whatever-the-hell-his-name-is does.
  • Memphis: None. You could argue that they might need to get rid of Rudy Gay to deal with a harder cap, but they could also easily trade Gay for assets and a bad contract and amnesty the bad contract instead (who knows if that'll even be allowed). You don't get rid of guys of that caliber for absolutely nothing but cap relief.
  • Miami: Mike Miller (4 years, $24 million).  The Heat stand to make out like bandits in an amnesty clause because of all the cut guys who will flock to sign with them for a pittance. Cutting Mike Miller gives them more room to sign these guys. I'd go so far as to say that the amnesty clause might guarantee the Heat a title.
  • Milwaukee: Drew Gooden (4 years, $26.3 million), Beno Udrih (2 years, $14.3 million), Stephen Jackson (2 years, $19.3 million). Beno Udrih and Stephen Jackson can still play and be productive.  I'm not sure Drew Gooden can, and he's on the books for longer. I think the Bucks release him.
  • Minnesota: Darko Milicic (3 years, $11.8 million), Nikola Pekovic (2 years, $9.3 million). Not too many choices here as most of the Timberwolves roster is on small contracts. But I'd have to guess that they'd let Darko loose under an amnesty clause, in which case they'd save $11.8 million over 3 years (Darko is actually owed $15.7 million over 3 years, but his final year is only partially guaranteed for $1.78 million).
  • New Jersey: Travis Outlaw (4 years, $28 million). The worst signing of the 2010 offseason. Outlaw was a complete disaster last year in New Jersey.
  • New Orleans: Trevor Ariza (3 years, $21.8 million), Jarrett Jack (2 years, $10.4 million).  New Orleans is a tricky situation as they're owned by the NBA, so I don't know who would make the decision on amnesty here, but if it were up to me, I'd cut Jarrett Jack.  Because Jarrett Jack is awful and the Hornets kind of have the point guard position covered (for now).  If they lose Chris Paul in free agency, having Jarrett Jack as insurance isn't going to make much of a difference.
  • New York: Ronny Turiaf (1 year, $4.4 million). I don't see New York using their amnesty on Chauncey Billups. His contract is expiring, and its size makes it useful in potential trades if New York sets their eyes on a big money acquisition. Not to mention the fact that Chauncey Billups is still quite good when he's at the top of his game. Cutting Turiaf gives them a little more room to go after a real center... like maybe a Dalembert?
  • Oklahoma City:  The Thunder and Sam Presti have done an astoundingly amazing job at building their team and not signing any bad contracts. They could still benefit from an amnesty clause by adding a piece or two to their team.
  • Orlando: Gilbert Arenas (3 years, $62.4 million), Hedo Turkoglu (3 years, $28.8 million). If I were Orlando, I'd waive Gilbert the second I had the use of my amnesty clause. Orlando could easily find a replacement on the free agent market from the other amnesty cuts. Hedo is also a possibility, if only because he could be traded to another team for something and amnesty'd by that team.
  • Philadelphia: Elton Brand (2 years, $35.2 million).  The Sixers probably would have liked to have been able to use an amnesty clause on Brand a couple years ago, and even though he had a bit of a return to form last year, Philly probably won't hesitate to use their amnesty on Brand as soon as they get a chance.
  • Phoenix: Vince Carter (1 year, $18.3 million), Josh Childress (4 years, $27 million). An important note regarding Vince Carter: His salary is only $4 million guaranteed for next season, and so using amnesty on him is a waste since they could just waive him and save $14.3 million.  As such, they'll definitely use it on Childress, which provides both a greater short and long term benefit.
  • Portland: Brandon Roy (4 years, $68.7 million). The saddest, but most likely cut on the list.  Portland gains a huge amount of cap relief here and clears up a glut of wings.
  • Sacramento: John Salmons (3 years, $25.2 million), Francisco Garcia (2 years, $11.9 million).  If it were up to me, I cut Salmons every time. But it's not up to me. Oh well.
  • San Antonio: Richard Jefferson (3 years, $30.5 million).  The Spurs have been in rumors of getting out of Richard Jefferson's contract ever since they've acquired him. I think they'd gladly use this opportunity to cut him, while simultaneously opening the door for Kawhi Leonard.
  • Toronto: Jose Calderon (2 years, $20.3 million), Linas Kleiza (3 years, $13.8 million). I think the Raptors opt to release Calderon here. He's more expensive, and older.
  • Utah: Mehmet Okur (1 year, $10.8 million). The Jazz have a few big contracts in Al Jefferson, Devin Harris and Paul Millsap, but the thing with those guys is that they're actually semi-valuable as assets and as players to the team. Memo is past his prime, coming off a big injury, and with a glut of forwards and centers on the roster (Jefferson and Millsap are joined by young bigs Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter), Memo seems to be the obvious choice for amnesty.
  • Washington: Rashard Lewis (2 years, $43.8 million). Ted Leonsis will shoot off fireworks if the Wizards are able to get Lewis off their cap for nothing. Cutting Lewis will drop the Wizards to $23.6 million in salary for 2011-12. That leaves a lot of room ... and more competition for the Kings.

***

Of those free agents which ones would the Kings even want?  Would they cut Salmons to take on the younger Marvin Williams? That's really the only scenario that appeals to me, and it might not even be possible. Getting Richard Jefferson on the cheap might be useful too, but would he even want to come to Sacramento? Wouldn't he prefer to go somewhere else with a much better chance to win a title? The same goes for most of the veterans on that list I think.

I'm not a fan of the amnesty clause.  It seems to me that it rewards incompetence, punishes prudence, and makes the rich get richer.

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