Finally, thanks to an amnesty clause in the new labor deal, every NBA team can wipe one bad contract off their books and never have to deal with it again. A “get out of jail free” card for NBA GMs. We like to call it the Gilbert Arenas rule. That should lead to a flood of players kicked to the curb, right? RIGHT?
Wrong. More like a trickle.
Because teams have a few years to use it (so long as the player is on the roster pre-lockout they can use it whenever), most teams are putting the amnesty card in their back pocket, reports Howard Beck at the New York Times.
“I don’t think there will be very many at all,” said one team executive, who asked to remain anonymous while the lockout remains in effect.
At most, three to six teams will take advantage of the amnesty clause this year, the executive said — a view that was echoed by others around the league. The reasons are varied and complicated.
Some teams are so far above the cap that removing one player will not provide room to sign free agents. A few teams have such low payrolls that they would dip below the minimum-payroll requirements. At least 10 teams have no obvious candidates for amnesty.
We call it the Gilbert Arenas rule, although the Magic could use it on Hedo Turkoglu and we’d understand. (Remember in all cases the player still gets paid his full contract, it just comes off salary cap and luxury tax numbers.) But that is the exception of having an obvious target to amnesty.
A more typical case might be the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, they would like to trim some of the $93 million they have in salary next season and to amnesty a player is one way. They could use it on Luke Walton, but he comes off the books the same year the tax goes up so you only really get a short-term boost letting him go. They could let Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) go, he is owed three years and $18.8 million. But wouldn’t the Lakers be better off trying to win with him for another year and then losing him next season (or the season after when the tax goes up)? The Lakers are way over the cap and the luxury tax line, who are they going to pick up that is better than World Peace to fill that role?
Most GMs don’t have an obvious hand to play, so they may sit on their cards and see how things play out. They know when to hold ‘em.
Of course, if they hadn’t given out these contracts in the first place….