The NBA season is coming quickly.
Once the new CBA is finally signed, sealed and delivered, camps and free agency will open up December 9th, and the 66-game 2011-2012 season will open on Christmas Day.
The time between opening of camp and the start of the season will be one of the most frenetic and fast paced free agencies to ever hit the NBA.
Teams will only have two weeks to make decisions on and sign players. Every team's management will be working overtime to get to the necessary 12-man active roster by the start of the season.
One interesting aspect of the new CBA is the "amnesty clause", which allows teams to buy out players, dollar for dollar, without going over the cap. Teams likely to use it are either over the cap by a few million, or below the cap and stuck with one contract that really holds them down.
NBA sources believe not many teams will use the clause. Perhaps only three to six teams might actually take advantage of it.
But here are 10 players who I believe are at risk of getting "amnestied" and who might be an option for the Raptors to pick up in that two-week rush beginning December 9th.
Pachulia is owed over $4.7 million this year and over $5.2 million next season. He could be a valuable piece to the puzzle in Toronto. Being an international player might make him more likely to sign in Toronto than any other city.
The odds of Pachulia getting bought out are pretty slim, but I highly doubt the Atlanta Hawks will buy out Joe Johnson, the worst contract on their team.
Pachulia might be Plan B.
Hamilton is owed over $12.6 million in each of the next two seasons, and it appears that the Detroit Pistons want to move in another direction, with a two-guard system of Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight, and Ben Gordon and Will Bynum coming off the bench.
If I were Joe Dumars and the Pistons, this would be a perfect time to shed Hamilton's contract.
Hamilton would not likely sign in Toronto, but it doesn't hurt to try. Rip would bring years of championship experience, solid perimeter defence, and of course, a very solid mid-range game to the table for the Raptors. He's not a bad guy for Demar DeRozan to learn from, either.
Outlaw is an NBA enigma. He's got a prototypical small-forward body: a tall, lanky, 6'9", 200-pound gazelle. He's a great up-tempo offence player to have.
Drawing comparisons out of high school to James Worthy, Outlaw was never likely to live up to those lofty expectations. He's not the smartest player around, but he works hard and is a great team guy.
Owed over $7 million next season for the next four seasons, the New Jersey Nets may just decide to buy him out and use that extra cash to lure a few new free agents to Brooklyn...I mean, New Jersey.
Maybe getting coached by Dwayne Casey would switch up Outlaw's game. At 27 years old, he still hasn't hit his ceiling and looks to be just entering his prime.
To me, he may be the most realistic target among the 10 players listed here.
According to Hoopshype, Brendan Haywood is owed $7.6 million this season, and by 2016, he'll be owed $10.6 million. Yes you read that correctly.
With talk of Tyson Chandler wanting to return to the fold and the Mavericks shelling out over $7.6 million for a bench player, they may bite the bullet here and buy out Haywood. That way, they could safely re-sign Chandler without going too much over the salary cap.
Haywood, a bruising 7-foot, 260-pound monster of a center, would provide Toronto with that big body down low that would allow Andrea Bargnani to move to the four.
Not to mention, it would give Haywood a starting role again.
Owed over $5 million this season, Thabeet will likely ride the pine most of the season for the Houston Rockets. Acquired in a trade when they got rid of Shane Battier, Thabeet really hasn't found anything so far in the NBA.
A move to Toronto, a team that will likely be out of playoff contention, may be the ticket, as there will be less pressure for him to perform. His all-defence game, similar to Dikembe Mutombo, would compliment Andrea Bargnani nicely.
It's just too bad that he looks lost out there most of the time.
The Indiana Pacers are in great position to make a splash this offseason. Sitting at only $36 million, the Pacers are nearly $30 million under the cap. However, with Danny Granger and Paul George around, shelling out nearly $7 million for James Posey really doesn't make sense for both sides.
Posey is a good veteran for any team to have. He shoots the three extremely well and he's a very good defender. However, the Pacers have a pretty good set of guards on their team, with Darren Collison, Brandon Rush, George Hill, AJ Price and Dahntay Jones all manning the position.
With George and Granger at the three, I don't believe Posey fits in.
With one year remaining, the Pacers would likely be better off trading Posey, but if they can't find a trade, I can see a buyout coming. That way, the Pacers would have some extra cash to lure some free agents to the Hoosier State.
Among the worst free-throw shooters in the league are Shaq, Dwight Howard, and Ben Wallace. And Andris Biedrins.
Biedrins is a piece to the Golden State puzzle that doesn't appear to fit in, and at $9 million a season, it would be a wise decision for the Warriors to get rid of him.
I really like Biedrins' game, free-throw shooting aside. He's a dominant force in the middle who can rebound and defend, and when all's said and done, he shoots a pretty good FG percent.
With David Lee snatching up most of the boards down in the Bay Area, Biedrins may be looking for a fresh start and a change of scenery.
If he isn't bought out, I'd still like the Raptors to attempt a trade for him—possibly by using someone like Linus Kleiza, or even Amir Johnson, as trade bait to bring him over.
Mike Miller is a very underrated player, mostly because of the injuries he's had to deal with in the past few seasons.
A deadly outside shooter, and an underrated rebounder and team defender, Miller would provide the Raptors with a solid option at small forward.
Miller is owed over $5 million this season, and with the emergence of James Jones as an option last year, having Mike at that price doesn't make much financial sense, especially with the Big Three and Udonis Haslem on the squad.
The Miami Heat are likely better off pursuing a trade with Miller, but there is still an outside chance of Mike Miller getting bought out.
I hate even mentioning his name, but Darko may be a possible target for the Raptors, and not just because he's Serbian.
Milicic is a decent rebounder, and he has a variety of offensive moves that could make him a solid option at center with the Raptors.
With Brad Miller, Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Randoplh, and of course Kevin Love around in Minnesota, the Timberwolves may opt to move Milicic instead of keeping his three-year contract of over $5 million a season.
I wouldn't trade for him, but if he was still there in an amnesty situation, I'd take a look at him.
The Blazers are in a world of hurt, financially. They owe two players over $22 million next season, Roy, who makes over $14 million for four years, and Greg Oden, who makes over $8 million this season if the team qualifies him. Both players' knee problems are well documented.
The Blazers have signed players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum long-term, and they'll need some cash to re-sign the likes of Ray Felton next offseason and Gerald Wallace down the road.
Do they risk having to pay Roy $14 million to spend most of his days on the sidelines?
But if the Raptors bring him in on a cheap deal, he's a perfect complimentary piece to Andrea Bargnani. He's almost like DeRozan, in a way, but he's got a more consistent jumper and has range out to the NBA three.
Whether he stays relatively healthy remains to be seen.