Arenas magic

Don’t expect many amnesty clause players this season


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….

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.