Boston Celtics' 5 Best Amnesty Candidates
And then immediately began poring over details of the newly-released draft settlement agreement for hints as to how it could effect their team's title chances for the fast-approaching season.
For many, one of the most interesting features of the new agreement is the Amnesty Clause.
This clause allows each franchise to cut one player from its roster, with the player's salary deducted from the team's salary cap. This amnesty option must be used within the life of the new CBA.
In effect, the clause gives each team one "do-over"—an opportunity to erase one of the mistakes made in signing a player for too much or too long.
Given the Celtics currently only have six players under contract, the options for amnesty candidates are limited.
However, an opportunity exists for the team to quickly free up some cash to spend on some of the league's free agents in the hopes of one more push for a title.
5. Rajon Rondo
Given that so much of the Celtics' planning for the future is wrapped up in their all-star point guard, it is highly unlikely that the team would use their amnesty clause to set him free.
Although Rondo's current contract has the most years remaining on it, apart from backup guard Avery Bradley, it peaks at a reasonable $13 million in 2014-15.
For an all-star with his best years ahead of him, that is a bargain.
4. Ray Allen
When the Celtics' fortunes started to dip during the second half of last season, Ray Allen was on the trade list of many Boston fans looking to ship out their 3-point star in favour of some young talent.
Allen is owed a cool $10 million this season, and it could be argued that the money would be better spent on one of the other free agents who are likely to be cut loose by another team using their amnesty clause.
However, Allen has shown himself capable of stepping up in big games and seems to have found a way to turn back the hands of time. His jump shot shows no signs of the aging process, and he will likely continue to provide value for money for the Celtics going forward past the current contract.
3. Paul Pierce
Perhaps no other player is more identified with the Boston Celtics than Paul Pierce.
However, no other player on the team's roster is guaranteed to earn as much money over the next four years as Pierce.
The Celtics have committed to paying their star small forward a guaranteed forty five million dollars over the next three seasons.
By the end of the 2003-14 NBA season, Pierce will still be earning over $15 million a year.
Although it is possible that he will still be playing at a level that justifies such a salary, it is not likely.
2. Jermaine O'Neal
Most people's top choice for the amnesty clause, Celtics' center Jermaine O'Neal, still has one year and over $6 million dollars left on his contract.
Injured for most of the last season, when on the court O'Neal displayed little to remind us that the 6'11" big man was a former all-star.
O'Neal's 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game were hardly what the team expected when they signed him as a free agent during the last offseason.
One stat stands out though, and that is O'Neal's 1.3 blocks per game.
Although his offence seems to have largely disappeared, O'Neal can still protect the basket and clog the middle as part of the Celtics' stingy defensive crew.
As such, it is unlikely that the team would be able to find anyone much better for the amount owed to O'Neal for the last season of his contract.
1. Kevin Garnett
This nomination may ruffle a few feathers, but in many ways it makes the most sense.
Not only that, Garnett will be the league's fourth highest-paid player this season!
Garnett is still a great player—and for many the heart and soul of the team—but could anyone truly say that they couldn't think of a better way to make use of that $21 million?
It could be argued the Celtics' best hopes lie in cutting Garnett, possibly with a view to resigning him to a much lower contract.
With a smorgasbord of talent on offer in the next few weeks as team's dump other talented yet overpaid players, the Celtics could use that extra money to sign two to three excellent players.
In doing so, the Celtics would lose some of its toughness—okay, a lot of its toughness—but it could add much-needed youth and flexibility to a team that is in danger of going stale.
It is a dangerous thought, but it may just be crazy enough to work.