All the fun parts of the NBA offseason are now over. All the marquee free agents have found new homes, any deal involving Dwight Howard likely won’t occur until the regular season, and the rookie class has been drafted and signed.
Probably one of the most interesting aspects to follow during the offseason is each team’s use of the new amnesty clause. Each team is allowed to swipe clean one salary from its books from the 2011-2012 to 2015-2016 seasons. That’s right, as long as any player is on the same team that he was on July 1, 2011, and his contract has not changed since then, he’s eligible to be a goner.
The time period to use the amnesty clause has already come and gone this offseason, with exactly half of the league’s teams already using the amnesty. Seven used it last year and eight this year. But that does not mean we can’t talk about the future of this fun clause.
The following is my list of each team that has not amnestied anyone yet and the team's best option for how to use the clause.
For some of these players, the team would be better off trading them so that they could get some pieces in return. But this is not about trading, it’s about amnestying.
I did not take into account salaries for this year, because the soonest that any of these teams can use their amnesty would not be until next July. This is because teams can only amnesty a player during the first seven days following the July moratorium.
Boston Celtics—No one—The only real options here are Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. Rondo will be making $11-12 million per year for the next couple of seasons as one of the best point guards in the league, so he’s not going anywhere. And considering that to amnesty Pierce next year would only erase one year of $15 million, I don’t think that terminating the franchise player of the past decade would be necessary.
Toronto Raptors—Amir Johnson (termination total: two years, $13,550,000)—I was tempted to say Andrea Bargnani since he’ll make $22 million over his final two years, but he’s the closest thing to a superstar that the Raptors have. Amir Johnson is a better selection. He’s making almost $14 million over his final two years, and he does not bring much to the table at all.
Milwaukee Bucks—Drew Gooden (two years, $13,374,800)—The Bucks are another team that is not necessarily rewarded for using the amnesty clause. Getting rid of Gooden could clear up some cap space to sign Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to long-term deals, but Gooden is not awful. To not use the clause would not be the worst thing for Milwaukee.
Chicago Bulls—Carlos Boozer (two years, $32,100,000)—Carlos Boozer has been a disappointment in Chicago, to say the least. When the Bulls signed him back in the 2010 offseason, they envisioned a reliable go-to scorer down low to take the scoring pressure off of Derrick Rose. He’s been good, but not good enough to make over $15 million per year.
Detroit Pistons—Charlie Villanueva (one year, $8,580,000)—It’s only wiping away one year, but it would be well worth it. Detroit is in rebuilding mode, and Villanueva is neither young nor promising. That $8 million could be put to greater use.
Miami Heat—Mike Miller (two years, $12,800,000)—Miller had an unforgettable performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and finally delivered the performance that Miami had been awaiting two years for. But it was too little too late. Miami now has Shane Battier, Ray Allen and James Jones to fill the three-point shooting swingman role, and all of them make less than Miller. He also cannot stay healthy.
Atlanta Hawks—No one—The Hawks decided to clear out cap space for next offseason in hopes of signing Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or both. The only guy worth considering would be Al Horford, who will make $12 million each year for the next four seasons. He’s not one of the NBA’s superstars, but Horford is a very good center, something not easily found in today’s NBA.
Charlotte Bobcats—Tyrus Thomas (two years, $18,082,645)—Thomas had a lot of hype coming out of LSU, but he’s never lived up to it. He can block some shots, but that’s about it. Let me put it this way: On the worst team of all time, Thomas only started 30 of the 54 games in which he played. His contract is not deserved.
Oklahoma City Thunder—Kendrick Perkins (two years, $18,631,779)—Perkins has been considered an underrated player for so long now that he’s almost to the point of becoming overrated. He’s a terrific low post defender and brings a needed toughness to your team, but the NBA is heading in a new direction. The league is focusing on speed and athleticism, which makes traditional tough centers like Perkins less valuable. Perkins was not even an asset for the Thunder in the finals. He’s awesome if you’re facing Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, but overall, his services don’t match his compensation.
Utah Jazz—No one—Utah is another team with a lot of contracts expiring this year. Derrick Favors is a candidate, but he’s still too young to give up on his potential this soon. Plus, Favors’ contract has a team option next year, so if the Jazz really don’t want him, they don’t have to use the amnesty clause to terminate his contract.
Los Angeles Lakers—Metta World Peace (one year, $7,727,280)—Metta World Peace helped bring a championship to LA, but his time as a productive player is about up. The Lakers are worrying about the big prize for the future in Dwight Howard, and clearing Peace’s contract would help keep Howard in town if the Lakers are able to land him in a trade this season.
Sacramento Kings—John Salmons (two years, $14,583,000)—Salmons’ production greatly diminished last year, and he was never a great player to begin with. With all the young talent in Sacramento, the Kings should not be paying unnecessary money to unaccomplished veterans like Salmons.
New Orleans Hornets—No one—Jason Smith is the only person on the roster who qualifies to be amnestied, and he’s only making $2,500,000 per year for the next two years. That’s not too bad of a price for a solid bench guy.
Memphis Grizzlies—Zach Randolph (two years, $34,300,000)—Basically, either Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph has to go. They reportedly don’t like playing together, and the Grizzlies are at their best when only one of those two is playing. The Grizzlies can only afford to pay one of them big money if they can’t play well together. Because Gay is younger and has been more consistent throughout his career, Randolph has to take the boot.
San Antonio Spurs—No one—The Spurs are probably the best run team in the NBA. They never overspend on anyone, and their role players are almost always signed for bargains. The amnesty clause was made to erase mistakes, but the Spurs simply don't make errors. Many teams needed the amnesty provision, but San Antonio was not one of them.