Arenas magic

Eight guys likely waived under new CBA amnesty clause


Next time you’re positive you know who is going to get cut with the coming NBA amnesty clause, remember this: In 2005 it was nicknamed the Allan Houston clause after the wildly overpaid Knicks guard. Except the Knicks didn’t cut him.

We don’t know who will get cut this time around, but we have heard an amnesty clause that allows a team to wipe a player off the official payroll (luxury tax and salary cap) is almost a certainty in the new labor deal. It’s a one time shot.

Remember — the players will still get paid. The amnesty will wipe a player’s salary off the official books, but this is a signed contract and the checks will keep flowing. Chris Bernucca at Sheridan hoops is right — this is essentially a do-over for the wealthy teams and gives overpaid players a chance to still get paid and sign with a contender for less. But if you were smart with your contracts and managed your budget, this doesn’t help you at all. As always, the owners just want protection from themselves.

Here are our guesses for the eight guys most likely cut, plus one interesting scenario in the Pacific Northwest.

Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons. He is owed two years, $25.3 million. In theory they could keep him around to trade him, but there hasn’t been much of a market for him in the past year — and the market will shrink with the new labor deal.

Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards. He is owed two years, $43.8 million. He may be the poster child for the amnesty clause. He also can still contribute and some team is going to get him for a song and he will help them (Miami may be the most likely).

Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Magic. He is owed three years, $54.3 million. They have a few choices, such as Hedo Turkoglu (three years, $34.8 million), but Arenas has the worst deal. Orlando needs to shed salary and bring in talent if they have any hope of keeping Dwight Howard after next summer.

Baron Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers. He is owned two years, $28.6 million. I know he is excited to mentor Kyrie Irving, but the Clippers were desperate to get rid of him (giving up the pick that became Irving) to stop him from mentoring their young team.

Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks. He is owed five years, $45.3 million. The Mavericks gave him a big deal, then it turned out Tyson Chandler was the big deal they really needed. Dallas will bring back Chandler and let Haywood go, but he is still a solid center who can help some teams.

Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. He is owed two years, $11.4 million. Another guy with NBA game that can help another team. He was a good triangle fit but may not work with the Mike Brown offense, plus the Lakers are going to need to trim salary whatever the new system is.

Travis Outlaw, New Jersey Nets. He is owed four years, $28 million. That he played just shy of 30 minutes a game last season in New Jersey speaks to the Nets roster issues. He is not part of the future and the Nets could use the cap space to maneuver.

Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors. He is owed three years, $27 million. He was going to be the center of the future, but his confidence fell apart faster than his free throw form. Or maybe they collapsed together. Either way, this franchise needs a change in the middle.

The biggest amnesty question is:

Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers. He is owed four years, $68.4 million. His knees have robbed him of a game that was worth that money. He was one of the franchise’s anchors, but while he can still deliver spectacular playoff fourth quarters he can’t deliver every game any more. On paper this seems an easy cut, but there are emotional ties here in Portland that make it more difficult. This will be owner Paul Allen’s call.

51 Questions: Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

Miami Heat v Phoenix Suns
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

It has been five years since the Phoenix Suns made the playoffs, tying the franchise record for longest playoff drought. It’s the fourth longest active drought in the NBA (Timberwolves at 11, Kings at nine, and Pistons at six).

Think about it this way: The Magic, Sixers, and Jazz have been to the playoffs more recently than the Suns.

Phoenix hasn’t bottomed out on a rebuild, they’ve actually been pretty good — they surprised everyone and won 48 games two seasons ago, then had 39 wins last season when things went very wrong and injuries crushed the team after the All-Star break. However, in a deep Western Conference pretty good isn’t good enough.

Suns management and ownership wants that to change. They want back in the playoff dance. Now.

It’s why they went hard after LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, coming in a surprising second to a Spurs team that nobody was likely to catch in that chase.

This summer the Suns made other moves to address needs. They went out and got Tyson Chandler as a free agent. The first reaction was he was there to provide a shot blocking and defensive quarterbacking, two things the Suns sorely lacked. However, just as importantly, they needed a vocal locker room leader, a vacuum that was part of the problem in Phoenix’s implosion last season.

The Suns also needed shooting, they went out and got Mirza Teletovic and drafted Devin Booker.

It’s easy to think the Suns regressed because they lost a lot of talent since the last trade deadline — Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Brandan Wright — but they believe the pieces they have now fit together better.

Phoenix believes it can make the playoffs; it thinks it finally has the right formula.

Maybe. They will be in the mix. But a four things have to happen to make that a reality.

First is Chandler has to lead a defensive renaissance on this team. Last season they were average, 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but Chandler can help change that. First, he gives them defensive rebounding that they lacked. He gives them a quarterback that they needed to call things out and have everyone on the same page (reports of how he talks on defense are already pouring out of camp). And he helps protects the paint — that means Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and P.J. Tucker can pressure the ball more and take risks out on the perimeter knowing Chandler can erase some mistakes.

The second is an obvious one: Bledsoe and Knight need to be able to work well together. They are going to share playmaking duties, and both are going to spend time working off the ball, both need to be ready for that mental adjustment. We haven’t seen that much yet, we need to see how it works out.

Third, there needs to be shooting to space the floor. Bledsoe is a penetrator who is a career 32 percent from three, while Knight shot just 31.3 percent from three after being traded to the Suns (likely due to ankle injuries that required off-season surgery). Those two men will be running the pick-and-roll with Chandler, who sets a good pick, rolls hard and can finish, but doesn’t have shooting range. The Suns other two starters are likely P.J. Tucker, who is not a huge threat from three but shot a respectable 34.5 percent from there last season, and Markieff Morris, who is a career 32.8 percent from three.

If I’m an opposing defense, what’s to keep me from going under picks and packing the lane against the Suns? Phoenix needs Knight to return to the guy who is a career 36 percent from three, they need Morris to improve from the outside, and they need guys like Teletovic and Booker to play key minutes and space the floor at times.

Fourth, and finally, they need the potentially volatile mixture of an unhappy Morris and a coach in Jeff Hornacek in the last year of his contract not to combust. Everyone is saying all the right things at the start of camp, and this is why guys like Chandler and Ronnie Price were brought in, but there is the potential for things to go sideways, especially if some early losses pile up.

The biggest hurdle for the Suns in ending their playoff drought is they are in the Western Conference.

Even if all four of things mentioned above go right for them — if they run and hit more threes plus play better defense — this is likely a 45 win team (give or take a few, and probably take). The problem is that in the West that may not be enough. Barring injuries, there are likely seven lock playoff teams in the West — Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans. That leaves the Suns battling teams such as the Jazz, Mavericks and maybe the Kings for that final playoff spot. It may take more than 45 wins, and things are going to have to break the Suns’ way to get there.

Maybe Robert Sarver gets his way and the playoff drought ends this season, it’s more likely than snow in Phoenix this winter. But I wouldn’t bet much on either happening.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James

Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.