Ever since the end of the 2011 NBA lockout, over half the teams in the NBA have used the amnesty cause. This allows teams to cut a player from their team. They still must pay every cent of the player's salary, however the money no longer counts toward the team's cap. This can be very useful when trying to clear cap space to make trades or sign free agents.
It sounds great, but there is a catch. For one, this opportunity expires at the start of the 2015-2016 season. That means that any team that hasn't used their amnesty clause yet has just a few more opportunities to do so before it expires forever. Here is another catch: a player is only available to be cut if he was on the team when the 2011 lockout ended and if he is on the same contract that he was on when the lockout ended.
Because of these requirements, some teams have lost their chance. There are 14 teams that still have their amnesty clause available, but some will not be on this list. For example, the Hornets have no players that could qualify, and therefore, they missed their opportunity. Other teams such as the Hawks have one player who is eligible, but that one player is Al Horford, who has an almost zero percent chance of being cut.
After explaining all that, let's see which teams can still use their amnesty clause and who they'll use it on.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Tyrus Thomas
As we are all aware of by now, the Bobcats had a pretty bad season last year. The team finished just 7-59 and could use some extra cap space to sign a free agent or take on a contract in the next year. Well, the good news is that the Bobcats do still have their amnesty clause available.
Now, their only eligible player is Tyrus Thomas. Thomas was a player who was supposed to be full of potential a few years back. He even had some pretty decent seasons starting for Chicago. However, last year he proved to be a complete disaster. Thomas started in 30 games but averaged just 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. The 1.1 blocks were nice considering he only played around 20 minutes a game, but Thomas has never lived up to his potential and is not worth the three years and $26 million he has left on his contract.
With the offseason over, the Bobcats have lost their chance to sign a quality forward, but that doesn't mean they need to keep Thomas and overpay him. Considering they have no better options right now, they'll probably keep him. But they may be considering cutting him anyway, especially next summer.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Charlie Villanueva
The Pistons have just two candidates eligible. Between Greg Monroe and Charlie Villanueva, the choice seems pretty obvious. Villanueva has two years and about $16.6 million remaining on his contract, a figure that he definitely doesn't deserve. Last season he played just 13 games due to injury and put up averages of 7.0 points and 3.7 rebounds a game off the bench.
In past seasons, Villanueva has been a decent player. But even what he contributed in 2010 (11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game off the bench) is not worth paying $8 million a year for. If the Pistons want to move forward and get back in the playoff race, they should start by cutting Villanueva and using the money to add a quality player to the rotation. You can get a good player with $8 million.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Steve Blake
Metta World Peace might be a good option here too, but Steve Blake has two years and $8 million left on his contract, and he is a mediocre backup guard. Last season, he averaged just 5.2 points and 3.3 assists in almost 25 minutes a game. He also shot a terrible 38 percent from the field.
Bottom line, he isn't a great shooter or passer, and the $4 million he is making this year and next could be money well spent on a quality player to add to the bench.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Mike Miller
Last year, I suppose you could say Miller was useful coming off the bench. He filled a role the Heat needed and averaged six points and three rebounds a game on 45 percent three-point shooting off the bench. But now, he will likely never see minutes. Dwyane Wade is still the star SG of the team, and newly acquired Ray Allen will soak up any minutes when Wade isn't on the court. That'll leave Miller with virtually nothing. And paying a guy $5.8 million a year to sit on the bench and do nothing isn't a smart idea. However, the Heat can still turn things around. Next summer, they can amnesty Miller and use that money to get a decent center. $6 million is plenty, and it is definitely enough to fill the Heat's small but important needs.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Drew Gooden
Drew Gooden is not a bad payer. In fact, he is a decent power forward, even if he is one of the weaker ones in the league. He averaged 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last year as starting power forward, and even if it was only on 44 percent shooting, he wasn't horrific.
Still, his play isn't worth the $6.7 million he's making per year for the next three seasons, and the Bucks have plenty of other options at PF. They still have Luc Mbah a Moute, Larry Sanders, and rookie John Henson who looked very promising in the summer league. Not to mention that they could get a decent replacement with $6.7 million.
It seems unlikely they would cut Gooden because he is performing decently, but it is an option nonetheless.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins is a guy you like to have on your team, but not really for the amount of money he is getting. Last season, Perkins averaged 5.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game as the starting center for the Thunder. He did that while making $7.1 million. This year, his salary has raised to $7.8 million and is only going to get higher over the next few seasons. He plays good defense, but you can't deny that there are other defensive options out there for less than what he's making. Or maybe the Thunder just want to save cap space in an attempt to retain both Harden and Ibaka? Either way, cutting Perkins shouldn't be overlooked next summer.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: John Salmons
The Kings are a team still in the rebuilding process and still haven't found any success. You have to think that with a little extra cap space they could go after a pretty good free agent and climb up the standings next season. Well, they probably can. But doing so involves cutting John Salmons.
Salmons was never good for the Kings anyway. He started 32 games last season but averaged only 7.5 points and 2 assists a game, on top of the fact that he doesn't have a shot. Isaiah Thomas and maybe even Jimmer would be better options at PG. For the $22.5 million he has left on his contract over the next 3 years, the Kings could get a valuable free agent. That would make cutting Salmons a very beneficial move for Sacramento.
Most Likely Player to be Cut: Linas Kleiza
SG Kleiza has never made a large impact on any team he has been on, and he definitely hasn't helped the Raptors win any games. He averaged 22 minutes a game off the bench last year, putting up averages of 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game on 40 percent shooting. While those numbers aren't terrible for a bench player, Kleiza is now buried in the rotation behind DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Landry Fields.
With no room for him in Toronto, it would be a smart move to cut him and use the $4.6 million he's making to sign a player at another position. They wouldn't get anyone much better than Kleiza, but they could still get a slightly better player to help out at a different position. It is something to consider.