NBA's Amnesty Clause: Top 10 Teams Who Will Use “Get out of Jail Free Card”

Anna BorgmanContributor IIDecember 3, 2011

Just imagine a top hat, a cane and a mustache...
Just imagine a top hat, a cane and a mustache...Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

If life were a board game, it would be, well, the game of Life.

You go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have little pink and blue babies and try to cram them all in a small plastic car with holes for seats. Simple.

Now, if the NBA were a board game, it would most likely be Monopoly.

Think about it: The man who runs the whole thing is old, white-haired and wears spectacles, players and owners work ruthlessly and relentlessly to crush each others’ dreams of winning and it all involves insane amounts of money that ordinary people wouldn't know what to do with. See?

And now, thanks to the new CBA which ended the lockout only days ago, there is a new similarity.

It’s called the Amnesty Clause, or as Rich Uncle Pennybags (ahem, Stern?) would call it: the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. 

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say a team signs a mid-level player and decides to grossly overpay him. Think Josh Childress of the Phoenix Suns. He’s good, but he rarely leaves the sidelines and is taking up a large portion of the team’s salary cap.

Essentially, the Suns have landed in jail. They cannot pass go. They cannot collect two hundred dollars…until now.

The arrival of the NBA’s new Amnesty Clause is basically like giving every Monopoly player a “Get Out of Jail Free” card which they are allowed to use, just once, at any point during the game.

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Andris Biedrins #15 of the Golden State Warriors talks with referee Dick Bavetta during an NBA game at Oracle Arena at Oracle Arena on February 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Instead of being stuck in the corner, the Suns can now use this to their advantage by waiving Childress and effectively wiping his salary off their books.

They still have to pay him the difference in his salary once he’s traded (if his new team offers him $3 million less, the Suns have to make up the difference), but they gain millions of dollars in cap space without really sacrificing anything.

They can jump their little metal thimble or Scottie dog over that dreaded corner spot and go purchase the rest of the hotels on Baltic Avenue.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Every team has the chance to use this Amnesty Clause on one player, so I’ve taken it upon myself to figure out the top 10 NBA teams who will (or should) make the best use of this new rule and which players will get the proverbial ax. You’re welcome.

We'll do this in alphabetical order so that no one gets their feelings hurt, which makes No. 1...

The Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland is still wallowing in the south-bound departure of he-who-shall-not-be-named, but they need to delete his phone number and move. They can start by getting rid of big contracts and mediocre players and building a new team in the process.

I'm a huge Baron Davis fan but it would do Dan Gilbert a world of good to waive that contract and save the Cavs a hefty $29 million over the next two years. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 07:  Mo Williams #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts to a call during their game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 7, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have a good thing going on down there in the Bay but they're missing a few key pieces. I'm not going to venture to say who those key pieces might be but I will say that Golden State needs to make some cap space if they're going to sign anyone substantial.

Now, I like Andris Biedrins for the simple fact that he looks like he's the long-lost VonTrapp brother, but that's my only hang-up here. He's on the bench more often than not and is not worth $9 million over the next three years. Let him go.

The Indiana Pacers

This one isn't significant but the Pacers could use some cap space if they're looking for new players to surround Danny Granger.

My pick? James Posey.

He's got a year left and $6.9 million on the books. If you're paying a guy that much and a die-hard NBA fan (myself) doesn't even know what James Posey looks have a problem.

The LA Clippers

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 30:  Josh Childress #1 of the Phoenix Suns passes the ball during the NBA game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at US Airways Center on March 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Thunder defeated the Suns 116-98. NOTE TO USER: User expr
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I really love this team. And it's not just because they're an LA team that isn't the Lakers.

I truly enjoy watching Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and...uhm, who else is on the Clippers?

Oh right, Chris Kaman and Mo Williams. Kaman is set to make $12.2 million while Williams will get $8.5 million and a player option for the next year. This comes down to a question of character versus talent. Williams might provide more stats-wise but Kaman is a great teammate. I'm the boss of this column so I'm waiving Williams.

The New Jersey Nets

You can't have a conversation about poorly-thought-out NBA contracts without bringing up Travis Outlaw. In 2010 he signed a 5-year, $35-million-dollar contract with the Nets. Now he's owed $7 million through the next two seasons. Outlaw, you just got amnesty-ed.

The Orlando Magic

Gilbert Arenas. $60 million. Thank you, thank you very much.

The Phoenix Suns

I already mentioned this one but I'll go into a bit more detail.

After playing in Greece for two years, Josh Childress came stateside and signed a 5-year, $33-million-dollar deal with the Suns. That's almost as bad at Travis Outlaw's contract...and that one is bad.

Good guy, great fro, money pit. If anyone wants to see Phoenix succeed, it's me and step No. 1 is waiving Childress.

The Portland Trail Blazers

Uhoh, Brandon Roy. Sore subject (no pun intended). The Blazers have a plethora of injury-prone players and although Roy has been a staple in Portland's franchise, he just might not be worth it anymore.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews both have good knees and reasonable contracts. Using their Amnesty Rule on Roy might be the Blazers' best bet to build on their assets.

The Toronto Raptors

First of all, the Raptors have the lowest odds at winning the championship this year at 200-to-1. By waiving Jose Calderon and his $19 million over the next two seasons, Toronto might convince Vegas to up their odds.

Last but not least, The Washington Wizards

Rashard Lewis seems to be the Amnesty Clause poster child these days. You know why? Because he's set to make $45 million over the next two years. There are only a handful of players who are worth that much in this league and Lewis is certainly not one of them.

If the Wizards can get that money off their cap, they might have a chance at keeping John Wall long term and building a contender.

And there it is, the Amnesty Clause in all its glory. It could be a game-changer for numerous teams this year—because with all the extra cap space, who knows what outlandish contracts could be signed next!


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