Eight guys likely waived under new CBA amnesty clause

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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.

Reports: Phil Jackson attending Shaq statue ceremony, Magic Johnson missing it to scout UCLA-Kentucky

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The Lakers are formally unveiling Shaquille O’Neal’s statue outside their arena tonight. Also tonight: UCLA-Kentucky in the Sweet 16, which features NBA prospects Lonzo Ball, Ike Anigbogu, T.J. Leaf, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo.

That makes an interesting choice for the NBA’s two highest-profile team presidents – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Knicks’ Phil Jackson (who coached Shaq in Los Angeles), both of whose teams are headed toward a high picks in the upcoming draft.

And the front-office heads are going different directions.

Arash Markazi of ESPN:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Watching a single game in person is unlikely to swing anything. Both Johnson and Jackson could send scouts to watch UCLA-Kentucky live and then the presidents could watch video later.

But attending in person is ideal, and there are already questions about Jackson’s work ethic. This will only fuel them.

If nothing else, this is an opportunity for Johnson, new on the job, to establish an image. He can clearly juxtapose himself with the failing Jackson and establish himself as a diligent alternative. The Lakers hired Johnson at least in part due to his high profile, but that needn’t stop him from grinding now that he has the position. Anyone doubting him would respect that.

Tyreke Evans: Giannis Antetokounmpo is like a taller me

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Giannis Antetokounmpo torched the Kings for 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals in the Bucks’ 18-point win Wednesday.

Afterward, Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans paid the Greek Freak the ultimate compliment.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Do you see many players like Antetokounmpo? Evans:

Nah. He like me, but 6-7 – I mean like almost 6-8, 6-7, whatever height he is. He just long, athletic. He get to where he want to go. He got good handle for his size, and he athletic. Once he get around the rim, he can finish.

If only you were an inch taller? Evans:

That’d be a problem. I mean, it’s still a problem, I think, for me to get where I want. But just the athleticism he have and the way he get up off the ground – he got quick bounce. He pretty good at it.

Antetokounmpo is listed at 6-foot-11, Evans 6-foot-6.

This isn’t totally unreasonable. Make Evans five inches taller and add none of the dexterity awkwardness that tends to accompany growth, and he might look a lot like Antetokounmpo. Both are usually slotted at forward while possessing point-guard skills.

But Evans isn’t 6-foot-11, and most 6-foot-11 players can’t move like Antetokounmpo. That fluidity for his size is a big part of what makes Antetokounmpo special. If Evans grew up to be 6-foot-11, he likely would have developed a different skill set than he has now.

Antetokounmpo is the rare player with both the height of a big man and skills of a guard. Evans didn’t miss out on that just because his genes kept him from growing another five inches.

This discussion is also silly for another reason. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s 6-foot-1 and certain he’d be as good as Evans if only he were five inches taller.

Rumor: Blake Griffin increasingly believed to be open to leaving Clippers in free agency

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The Clippers were rumored to have already verbally agreed to terms with pending unrestricted free agents Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

But with formal contract extensions unviable, L.A. was always going to have to play out the season and hope those players remained committed into July.

There might be a hitch in that plan.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

That Griffin would also stay and reap the biggest payday he can seems likely, too—in theory. But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start—perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win.

Does Ding have credible information to suggest Griffin could join the Lakers or Celtics, or is that just speculation on the writer’s part about potential fits? It’s unclear. This is already fairly loosely sourced.

But we should gather more information quickly once free agency begins. Griffin reportedly planned to re-sign quickly. If he shows the faintest hint of exploring the market, that could open the floodgates.

Griffin had been frequently linked to his home-state Thunder, but Oklahoma City would interfere with his burgeoning Hollywood connections.* The same issue would exist with Boston, though obviously not the Lakers. That said, the Celtics are WAY better than the Lakers – and maybe soon the Clippers and Thunder, considering those Nets picks headed to Boston.

*Oklahoma City also since nuked its cap space with contract extensions for Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, though trades could always clear room if Griffin wants to come home.

The Clippers are in a bad place right now. One one hand, that forebodes another disappointing end to the season. On the other hand, there’s still time to overcome and send Griffin into free agency on a more positive note.

These are dangerous times for the Clippers, who wouldn’t have cap space to adequately replace Griffin, Paul or Redick if one leaves. So, if one bolts, the others seems more likely to follow. Interpersonal relationships matter, but the Clippers’ primary selling points were always going to be money and winning (with Hollywood proximity a bonus). Winning gets harder if talent walks.

They can still offer the most money, and they’re not leaving L.A. But the Clippers better win more to help avoid what could be a tenser-than-expected summer.

Suns use youngest starting lineup in NBA history

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The Suns have shut down their veterans or been shut down by their veterans with two goals in mind – developing young talent and tanking.

Incidentally, Phoenix also made history.

Against the Nets last night, the Suns started:

ESPN:

Elias on ESPN:

The previous youngest was the Clippers’ starting five consisting of guards Eric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon, forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Blake Griffin, and center DeAndre Jordan, who averaged 21 years and 143 days old in a matchup with the Nets on November 15, 2010.

The young Suns gained quality experience – and helped their team to an important loss, 126-98 to Brooklyn.

Phoenix is still 1.5 games “behind” the Lakers for the No. 2 seed in the lottery, but the Suns are within striking distance in case the Lakers screw up and win too much down the stretch.