With so many reports on the prospective collective bargaining agreement swirling around, we could see a multitude of new provisions and modifications this next season.
One of the most prominent and analyzed additions to the new CBA will be the Amnesty Clause, which will allow each NBA franchise an opportunity to waive a player, pay off his atrocious contract and receive no luxury tax or salary cap repercussions. Given the Lakers’ monstrous 90 million dollar payroll and the rumors that a more severe tax penalty for teams over the salary cap is on the horizon, the Lakers could look to utilize the clause to unload little-used reserve Luke Walton.
There is no doubt that the bench-warming Walton is the primary target of the clause, considering he is owed about 11.5 million dollars over the next two years. Luke’s pathetic 1.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and nine minutes a game last season would be enough to have even Charles Barkley saying, “Now that’s turrible.”
The Lakers shouldn’t feel guilty dropping Walton after his eight seasons with the team though, because he seems to have found his niche: coaching. Luke has been helping coach the Memphis Tigers throughout the duration of the lockout and it could prove to be his future calling.
Now, although this amnesty clause wouldn’t get the Lakers out of the woods just yet, it would be a good start. Dropping Walton would remove about 17.5 million dollars over the next two years in luxury taxes, when applying his salary to the owners’ projected strict and progressive luxury tax system.
This move would also free up room for the Lakers to possibly pick up another player, if the terms and regulations regarding the mid-level exception remain relatively the same as they were in the previous CBA.
A productive and impactful point guard has been on the Lakers radar for a while and both Beno Udrih of the Bucks and Kirk Hinrich of the Hawks are possible amnesty cuts. If the Lakers could find a way to pick up any decent PG, this would provide the Lake Show with a useful backup (or starter depending on the manner in which Mike Brown wants to use Derek Fisher)—similar to what Steve Blake was supposed to be this past season.
Neither Udrih, nor Hinrich are the answer to Los Angeles’ playoff woes suffered this past offseason, but the waiving of Walton, combined with an effective and reliable point guard, could be the start to the Lakers’ much-needed revival.