NBA Free Agents 2011: Could NBA Amnesty Clause Add New Names to Detroit Pistons?

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2011

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns  at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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For months, we have been discussing the new NBA labor agreement and the much rumored amnesty clause.

Basically, the clause states that teams will be able to get out from under one bad contract and have it no longer count against the salary cap.

Therefore, a team like the Detroit Pistons could essentially buy out a player that has a bad contract and not have that contract count against their salary cap.

For Pistons fans, this sounded like a godsend.

Team president Joe Dumars has been handing out terrible contracts over the past few years, and the idea of unloading some of that bloated mess sounded too good to be true.

But before you start crunching the numbers and deciding which of the Pistons needs to be "amnesty-ed", let's take a closer look at this provision.

The final rules haven't been clearly written yet, but it is believed that if a player is bought out, he then would fall into a waiver-wire zone of sorts, in which he then would only be allowed to sign with a team that is already under the salary cap. So a team like the Dallas Mavericks won't be able to sign someone else's clause victim (for a great article on this, check out this one.)

It also is likely that the provision will be in play for the life of the CBA, so for that reason, Detroit does not appear to be using the provision at this time.

According to the Detroit News, Detroit is planning on instead mining the trade market and free agency to field their team this year.

So for all of you that had visions of the Pistons unloading some of their deadweight through this clause, we will have to wait.

That is not to say that Detroit is going to stand pat. The team has plenty of holes and many of their players still have plenty of trade value.

But the real question is, what players will be available to Detroit through the amnesty clause?


Some Intriguing Options

Detroit has two major holes: small forward and another big man. I think the Pistons could potentially add a backup point guard to this mix, but I think Dumars is content with Brandon Knight, Will Bynum and maybe a minor free agent or undrafted rookie here.

Small forward and a big are much more glaring holes.

With Tayshaun Prince likely gone and Kyle Singler committed to Europe for the year, this leaves Detroit with technically only one small forward on the roster—the enigmatic Austin Daye.

Sure, Jonas Jerebko is likely to return following a stint in restricted free agency, but the team likely will want a veteran or a young guy with some athleticism. Besides, Jerebko will be needed as an energy guy at both spots, and Daye is anything but a sure thing.

The free-agent market is relatively tame at this spot, with only Shane Battier and Thaddeus Young as true upgrades at the position. But both likely will be out of the Pistons' price range, especially now that they aren't going to use the amnesty clause to free up some cap space.

On the amnesty front, there are two likely possibilities, Rashard Lewis and Rudy Gay. Lewis is a very good shooter and a solid defender. But Gay is the real question mark.

The Memphis Grizzlies desperately wants to re-sign Marc Gasol. They want him so bad they will be willing to set the market for their big man, who likely will earn a salary upwards of $12 million per season given the dearth of free-agent big men available.

As of now, Memphis has about $53 million in contracts on its books. A big chunk of that is Rudy Gay.

The Grizzlies just doled out big deals for Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, and now they are having buyer's remorse with Gay seeing as he will earn upwards of $60 million over the next several years.

Gay could immediately bring some life to Detroit's front court. A career 18 PPG scorer, Gay is an athletic big that can score from anywhere and drain the three.

What makes matters more interesting is that Memphis played a good chunk of its season last year, including the playoffs, without Gay, and still played extremely well.

This certainly is worth some thought.

As for power forward and center, this is likely a less attractive situation.

Al Jefferson, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood are options here, although each of these players has some solid trade value despite their contracts.

Of the three, Jefferson makes the most sense for Detroit. He is a big man with low-post skills that can rebound. He is also fairly young, though he has some recent knee injuries.

A frontcourt of Jefferson and Greg Monroe could be a very powerful one for years to come.

Regardless of what happens with the amnesty clause, this should be a very interesting week or two for Detroit basketball.