NBA Teams Would Amnesty These Players If They Still Could
When the new collective bargaining agreement was established after the lockout, teams were granted the ability to use the amnesty provision on one existing contract on their roster to clear a player's cap number, but not their actual salary.
The amnesty provision was used by 20 teams. Some of the victims were big names (Chauncey Billups, Baron Davis, Gilbert Arenas) and some were not so big (Charlie Bell, Ryan Gomes).
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, there are only 10 players in the entire league still eligible to be amnestied. The only two players with a reasonable chance of having that happen are Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer and Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
If those two players survive this offseason, it's very likely that we won't hear the phrase "amnesty" again for quite some time.
But let's imagine a scenario where David Stern waves his magic commissioner wand and gives every NBA team the right to use the amnesty provision again this offseason.
In this hypothetical, which players would be erased from the books for next year? Let's take a look.
Gerald Wallace, F, Boston Celtics
If the amnesty option was provided to every team again, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge wouldn't be able to pick up his phone fast enough.
After this season is over, Gerald Wallace has two years and $20.2 million remaining on his deal. Wallace's deal is unquestionably one of the most toxic contracts in the league, and you could argue that the length makes it much worse than anyone else's.
It doesn't help that Wallace has completely collapsed as a player. Forget about the decline in athleticism. This is mostly in Wallace's head.
So far this season, Wallace is posting the 10th-lowest usage percentage of all players who have recorded at least 300 minutes. By the same minute parameters, Wallace has posted the league's worst turnover percentage (34.9 percent). Wallace is basically playing hot potato, not basketball.
On the list of priorities for Ainge, dumping Wallace's contract has to be right at the top. The Celtics wouldn't think twice about using the amnesty here.
Amar'e Stoudemire, F, New York Knicks
Oh, the places the New York Knicks could go without Amar'e Stoudemire's massive contract.
Stoudemire is still on the books for $23.4 million next year, and he'll retain his status as the league's second-highest-paid player next to Kobe Bryant.
If Stoudemire's cap hold could be made to disappear, the Knicks would do it in a heartbeat. While they would still need to shed salary elsewhere, the possibility of pairing Carmelo Anthony with another legitimate star would become much more real.
Injuries have completely ravaged Stoudemire's career, and there's no misconception that he'll ever be able to come close to his old form or live up to his gaudy contract. Paying a guy $23.4 million not to play for your team would be tough for some owners, but James Dolan wouldn't hesitate if he were lucky enough to get the chance.
Steve Nash, G, Los Angeles Lakers
This wouldn't be a fun decision for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, but it would be the right one.
Steve Nash has one year left on his contract after this season for $9.7 million. After Kobe Bryant's massive extension, the Lakers will need every bit of available cap space to build a contending team.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Nash will be a part of that.
Nash's back, knees and entire body are beginning to fail him, and the outlook isn't sunny for next year when he'll be 40 years old.
Whether the Lakers go young or build a veteran roster in free agency next year is yet to be seen, but it's hard to say that Nash is worth $9.7 million, even if you make a leap of faith and assume he'll be reasonably healthy. It's hard to imagine the Lakers sitting on the amnesty if they had it.
Tayshaun Prince, F, Memphis Grizzlies
This may seem a little surprising given his reputation, but Tayshaun Prince just isn't providing the production you'd expect from someone slated to make $7.7 million next year.
So far this year, Prince has posted career lows in points per 36 minutes, true shooting percentage, assist percentage, steal and block percentage and player efficiency rating. This has been the worst year of his career by a large margin thus far.
Prince will be 34 years old next year with an awful lot of miles on the odometer, so perhaps Memphis would free some cap space to retain both Ed Davis and Zach Randolph by using the amnesty provision on Prince.
While it's debatable whether Memphis' ownership would sign off on this or if management would part with an expiring contract that could be a trade chip, $7.7 million can go a long way for a contender in free agency. This would be a tough call that would likely depend on who was available and how much room under the cap it would create.
Joel Anthony, C, Miami Heat
When you're paying the luxury tax like Miami is, shedding a salary worth $3.8 million is a big deal.
That's how much Joel Anthony is scheduled to make next year if he accepts his player option, which he almost certainly will. Anthony has played only 30 minutes this season, so you have to imagine Miami would love to take the chance to get his salary off the books and lighten the tax payment.
Although Udonis Haslem is scheduled to make a little more next year at $4.6 million, at least he can still be useful on the court. Anthony hasn't played meaningful minutes in quite some time, and that probably isn't going to change soon. This would be an easy decision.
Landry Fields, F, Toronto Raptors
After the Rudy Gay trade, it seems clear that the Toronto Raptors want to rebuild and start from the ground up.
If the option of amnestying a player became available, Landry Fields would be the likely target. Fields will make $6.2 million next season, which is a pretty steep price for a player with a PER of 8.5 this year.
The signing of Fields was just another in a long line of messy mistakes by former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, and you could expect new GM Masai Ujiri to clean this one up as well.
Fields isn't a bad player, and he's still young at 25 years old, but the price is just too high for a guy with such a low ceiling. The Raptors could have some serious cap space this offseason if Fields were to be taken off the books.