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NBA Teams That Still Have Their Amnesty Provision, and How They Should Use It

Bryan ToporekFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2013

NBA Teams That Still Have Their Amnesty Provision, and How They Should Use It

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    With the 2013 July moratorium now lifted, teams are once again free to release an underperforming player with their "amnesty provision."

    The amnesty, a feature of the league's latest collective bargaining agreement signed in December 2011, is each team's one-time chance to remove a player from their salary cap space through waivers.

    Each team must follow a specific set of rules when deciding upon whom to release in this fashion. A player is only eligible to be amnestied if he's been on his team's roster ever since July 1, 2011, without having signed a new contract or extension.

    Teams can only use the amnesty once between the 2011-12 and 2015-16 seasons, not once each year. Furthermore, players can only be amnestied within the first seven days after the July moratorium has been lifted (July 10-16 in 2013).

    While a handful of teams are rumored to be exercising their amnesty this summer, 14 teams currently have the option available at the moment. Fifteen teams have already exercised their right to amnesty a player, and the one remaining team, the New Orleans Pelicans, has no amnesty-eligible players on their roster.

    Who's likely to face the amnesty axe this summer? Let's take a look.

    Note: All information about the amnesty provision comes from Larry Coon's 2011 salary cap FAQ. All salary information comes from ShamSports.com or HoopsWorld.com. Teams are featured here in alphabetical order.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Al Horford

    By virtue of the Atlanta Hawks slashing and burning their old roster over the past two offseasons, Al Horford is the only player on the roster currently eligible to be amnestied.

    Seeing as teams don't tend to amnesty their best player, Horford shouldn't exactly be sweating his fate with Atlanta too much.

    Horford signed a five-year, $60 million extension with the Hawks back in November 2010, locking himself in as one of the most affordable top young big men in the league. After an injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign, he sent a reminder throughout the 2012-13 season of just how dominant he can be at times.

    He's capable of playing either frontcourt position, which makes him that much more of a valuable asset for Atlanta. Barring a catastrophic, Andrew Bynum-esque degradation of his health, Horford will play out the rest of his extension without facing the remote possibility of being amnestied.

    Who should be amnestied? No one. 

Boston Celtics

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo

    Just like the Atlanta Hawks, the chances of the Boston Celtics ever using their amnesty provision range from slim to none. 

    Now that Paul Pierce is a member of the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics' only have two amnesty-eligible players remaining: Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Seeing as both players comprise the Celtics' presumed starting backcourt (once Rondo recovers from ACL surgery), it's difficult to fathom a situation in which the team would amnesty either of them.

    While the Celtics may appear to be all aboard the Tanking Express for the 2013-14 season, it's not Danny Ainge's M.O. to give up on a player for nothing. If the Celtics wanted to rid themselves of either Rondo or Bradley, they'd pursue a trade to get an asset or two in return.

    If Rondo suffers a major setback in his recovery from ACL surgery, it's at least conceivable that the Celtics amnesty him during the 2014 offseason. At this point, however, no Celtic should be considered at major risk of being amnestied.

    Who should be amnestied? No one this offseason; Rondo in 2014 if his ACL never heals correctly.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Tyrus Thomas

    The Charlotte Bobcats appear to be one of the few locks to use their amnesty during the 2013 offseason.

    According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, the Bobcats plan on amnestying Tyrus Thomas to create enough cap space to sign Al Jefferson to his reported three-year, $41 million deal.

    The decision to release Thomas should come as no surprise to any poor soul who watched the Bobcats in the 2012-13 season. The big man played a grand total of 360 minutes throughout the season, averaging a whopping 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in only 13.8 minutes per game.

    To obtain Thomas back in 2010, the Bobcats traded a future first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls that’s protected for selection Nos. 1-10 in 2014, Nos. 1-8 in 2015 and completely unprotected in 2016. With Thomas owed roughly $18 million over the final two seasons of his contract, there’s no need for Charlotte to add insult to injury by keeping him around.   

    Who should be amnestied? Tyrus Thomas

Chicago Bulls

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah

    The luxury tax-averse Chicago Bulls find themselves in an uncomfortable situation at the moment, as they're sitting about $5 million above the tax line ($71.748 million) for 2013-14.

    In theory, that makes Carlos Boozer one of the league's more attractive amnesty candidates. He experienced his best season with the Bulls in 2012-13 but has still yet to live up to the five-year, $75 million contract he signed back in July 2010.

    Despite that, the team is likely to opt against exercising its amnesty this offseason to preserve it for the 2014 offseason. Luol Deng's contract is set to expire next summer, which could put the Bulls in position to offer a max-level contract to a free agent if they release Boozer.

    Boozer should have one final shot with Derrick Rose and the rest of the Bulls in 2013-14 to take down LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Come next summer, however, it'd be a major shock to see the Bulls keep Boozer around for the final year of his contract.

    Who should be amnestied? No one this offseason; Boozer in 2014.

Detroit Pistons

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Greg Monroe, Charlie Villanueva

    The 2013 offseason marks the Detroit Pistons' last real chance to use their amnesty provision.

    The Pistons aren't going to amnesty Greg Monroe, who's quite possibly the best player on their roster even after the addition of Josh Smith. If for whatever reason they decided to get rid of Monroe, he'd have plenty of trade value to entice other teams into giving up legitimate assets.

    That leaves Charlie Villanueva as the one and only realistic amnesty candidate in Detroit. He unsurprisingly picked up his $8.580 million player option back in May, as players coming off seasons where they averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game aren't exactly in high demand.

    The Pistons don't have much reason to amnesty Villanueva, however, as they're just above the 2013-14 salary floor of $52.8 million with his contract on the books. With that said, there's no harm in amnestying Villanueva and using that cap space on a player with at least a remote chance of being productive.

    Who should be amnestied? Charlie Villanueva

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace

    If there's one Los Angeles Laker who's happy with Dwight Howard leaving L.A. and signing with the Houston Rockets, it's Pau Gasol.

    Since helping the Lakers win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, Gasol's name has often come up in both trade and amnesty rumors. Now, with Howard gone and the Lakers in desperate need of a competent starting center, the team has abandoned any pretense of amnestying Gasol, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on the night of Howard's free-agency decision.

    That doesn't mean all Lakers are free from amnesty concerns, however. In fact, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange Country Register, the Lakers plan on using their still-remaining amnesty on Metta World Peace to save a net of roughly $15 million in contract and luxury tax payments.

    After news of the Lakers' reported amnesty decision began to leak out, Kobe Bryant himself took to Twitter to defend World Peace, hatching the brilliant hashtag #newcbacasualty in the process.

    If it's the end for World Peace in a Laker uniform, at least he's got an NBA championship to show for it. (He's back to being ringless, however, after auctioning his 2010 championship ring for charity.)

    Who should be amnestied? Metta World Peace

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph

    After a surprise appearance in the 2013 Western Conference Finals, the Memphis Grizzlies aren't exactly headed into the 2013-14 season with a "blow up the roster" mentality.

    With Mike Conley and Zach Randolph as the only two amnesty-eligible players remaining on the roster, it appears the Grizzlies will be one of the few teams that never take advantage of the provision.

    While CBSSports.com's Matt Moore nearly had an aneurysm upon hearing that the Grizzlies inked Conley to a five-year, $40 million deal back in 2010, that contract now has evolved into a major steal for Memphis. Conley held his own against Chris Paul in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, helping fuel the Grizzlies' upset of the higher-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.

    Randolph is the more likely of the two players to be amnestied, as he's owed $34.4 million through the 2014-15 season. Barring a complete collapse of his game in 2013-14, however, it's difficult to imagine the Grizzlies exercising their amnesty on one of the leaders of their Grit 'N' Grind movement.

    Who should be amnestied? No one.

Miami Heat

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Joel Anthony, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, LeBron James, Mike Miller, Dwyane Wade

    Of the 14 teams that still have the amnesty provision at their disposal, the Miami Heat by far have the highest number of players eligible to be released that way.

    Coming off back-to-back championships, the Heat obviously aren't amnestying LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. Udonis Haslem, whose effectiveness was limited in the second half of the 2012-13 season due to a torn right meniscus, isn't at risk of losing his roster spot either.

    That leaves Joel Anthony and Mike Miller as the Heat's two realistic amnesty candidates. Both Anthony and  Miller have player options in 2014-15 (Anthony for $3.8 million; Miller for $6.6 million), and they'll be earning $3.8 million and $6.2 million, respectively, during the 2013-14 season.

    If the Heat either A) lost in the 2013 NBA Finals or B) needed cap space to lure a major free agent to Miami this summer, Miller would be the most likely amnesty victim. As it stands, there's no real reason for Miami to exercise its amnesty on Miller until next offseason, when James, Wade and Bosh can all opt out of their contracts and become free agents again. 

    Who should be amnestied? No one this offseason; Miller in 2014.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders

    The Milwaukee Bucks have been a mystery wrapped in an enigma throughout 2013 free agency. There's been little rhyme or reason to any of their major reported signings.

    If they fail to amnesty Drew Gooden, it'll be the team's biggest disaster of the offseason yet.

    Gooden, who signed a five-year, $32 million contract back in July 2010, is stealing money from Milwaukee at this point. He played a total of 156 minutes in the 2012-13 season, averaging a pathetic 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

    There's no real reason for Milwaukee to hold onto Gooden, with Ersan Ilyasova, Ekpe Udoh and John Henson all ahead of him on the depth chart. The Bucks could use the $6.7 million owed to Gooden in 2013-14 to help address some of the massive holes in their backcourt.

    Who should be amnestied? Drew Gooden

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Nick Collison, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha

    The Oklahoma City Thunder may have four players eligible to be amnestied, but only one stands out as a legitimate candidate for the provision: Kendrick Perkins.

    After Perk posted a PER of -0.6 in the 2013 playoffs (that negative sign is not a typo), Perkins' name began flying in amnesty rumors. Thunder general manager Sam Presti attempted to squelch that talk after the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs by saying that the team hadn't considered using the provision on Perkins, according to The Oklahoman.

    While the Thunder drafted Steven Adams, Perkins' presumed successor, with the No. 12 pick in 2013, he's nowhere near ready to contribute on a team hoping to contend for an NBA championship. The Thunder will need Perk to groom Adams for at least a year, even if he's unable to adequately defend elite big men like he did back in his Boston Celtics days.

    If the Thunder refuse to use their full mid-level exception in fear of dipping into the luxury tax, they should amnesty Perkins this offseason. Otherwise, they'd be better suited keeping Perk around to show Adams the NBA ropes in 2013-14 before cutting him loose next summer.

    Who should be amnestied? No one this offseason; Perkins in 2014.

Sacramento Kings

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    Eligible to be amnestied: DeMarcus Cousins, John Salmons

    If the Sacramento Kings plan on using their amnesty in 2013, there's only one logical choice on their roster.

    It's certainly not DeMarcus Cousins, who finished the 2012-13 season tied with Nikola Pekovic for the 27th-best PER in the league (20.2). He's only a year away from reaching restricted free agency, which means if the Kings really want to be rid of him, they can allow him to walk just like they did with Tyreke Evans in the 2013 offseason.

    That leaves John Salmons as the only other amnesty-eligible player on the Kings' roster. At the moment, he ranks as one of the league's more likely candidates.

    While the Kings are just below the salary cap after their reported trade for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, according to ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, they might not be done making a splash in the 2013 free-agent pool. Lowe believes Salmons may be on the amnesty chopping block to free up roughly $7.5 million in cap space for Sacramento.

    Who should be amnestied? John Salmons

San Antonio Spurs

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Matt Bonner, Tony Parker

    The odds of the San Antonio Spurs using their amnesty in 2013 likely evaporated on June 29, the day when Matt Bonner's partially guaranteed contract became fully guaranteed.

    If the Spurs had any intention of freeing themselves of the $3.945 million owed to Bonner in 2013-14, they would have waived him before June 29 and only been responsible for $1 million. By not doing so, the Spurs would effectively cost themselves $3 million more by exercising their amnesty on him now.

    On the off chance that the Spurs find themselves in negotiations with one of the top remaining free agents and need all the cap space they can scrounge up, Bonner theoretically could still be released. It just wouldn't make much sense for San Antonio, barring a major unforeseen addition to their roster.

    The only other amnesty-eligible player on the Spurs is Tony Parker, and, well...no. Just no.

     Who should be amnestied? No one.

Toronto Raptors

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza

    The Toronto Raptors are situated uncomfortably close to the luxury tax line for a team that's likely to struggle for a playoff berth in 2013-14.

    Assuming the Raptors pick up the final year of Kyle Lowry's contract ($6.21 million), their current team salary is expected to come in right around $71 million, according to HoopsWorld.com. That should leave them about $700,000 in breathing room before bumping into the tax level, which is set at $71.748 million.

    For that reason alone, Toronto would be wise to exercise its amnesty on Linas Kleiza this offseason. Kleiza is buried below Rudy Gay and Mickael Pietrus on the Raptors depth chart, evidenced by his per-game averages of 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 2012-13.

    Amir Johnson, the only other amnesty-eligible player on Toronto's roster, is a legitimate contributor. There's no real point in keeping Kleiza around, however, as his $4.6 million salary in 2013-14 will limit the Raptors' ability to make subsequent free-agent signings or trades later in the offseason.

    Who should be amnestied? Linas Kleiza

Utah Jazz

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    Eligible to be amnestied: Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward

    By allowing Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to walk in favor of trading for Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins, the Utah Jazz all but punted on contending for a 2014 playoff spot.

    Because of that decision, there's little reason for the Jazz to consider using their amnesty on either of the two players still eligible for it: Derrick Favors or Gordon Hayward.

    Both Favors and Hayward are set to become restricted free agents following the 2013-14 season. If the Jazz decide to abandon ship on either player, they could simply not extend a qualifying offer to one (or both) and allow them to become unrestricted free agents instead.

    With Millsap and Jefferson gone, Favors seems to figure into Utah's long-term building strategy. While Hayward's future with the Jazz is significantly less certain, he'll at least get the chance to play out the 2013-14 season before the team makes any major decisions about what to do with him.

    Who should be amnestied? No one.

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