Amnesty Tango: Northwest Division

Tango

Photo by aka_serge via Flickr

 

The NBA’s latest CBA proposal reportedly includes an “amnesty clause” – a one-time opportunity for teams to remove their worst contracts from the books.

NBA teams have had this opportunity once before. In 2005, teams were given the chance to waive a single player contract. Teams were still bound to pay the players’ salary, and the salaries continued to count against the cap, but teams were freed from any obligation to pay luxury tax on those salaries.

Via “The NBA CBA, Amnesty Rule and the League’s Worst Contracts” by Charlie Zegers

An anticipated result of the lockout is that NBA owners will get one free get out of jail free card… that is, they can axe one grossly overpaid player from their accounting books. Charlie Zegers wonderfully details the candidates for such action. There are the obvious suspects like Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas, but also long shots like Joe Johnson.

However, giving the owners the ability to unilaterally destroy someone’s earnings is unfair.* Therefore, I’ve decided to give an underpaid player from each team the unilateral right to nix his deal and get mo’ money (In Living Color alert!). Naturally, most of those selected will be players still on their rookie deals, but there may be a few surprises. First up, the Northwest Division teams.

(Note: All salary information provided by Hoops Hype. Furthermore, it will be assumed all player and team options are in full effect.)

Denver Nuggets

Fast on their way to becoming the feeder system for the Chinese Basketball Association, the Nuggets currently have a skeletal roster. It’s also a cheap skeleton. Not a single pricey bone to be found. Anyhoo, the two prime candidates for my scheme are Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson. Gallo has two years and $10m left, while Lawson has 3 years, $7.5m. In the end, Lawson is the player to be set free. Given Denver’s situation, Gallo will likely be able to chuck his way to 25ppg and the appropriate, exuberant contract it brings. Meanwhile, our free-as-a-bird Lawson will be able to cash in on his ability to run a team as the starting PG or become an off-the-bench dynamo.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Another team full of ostensibly cheap contracts, but cheap is relative. Is Darko really worth $5m a year? If you like left-hook after left-hook action then yes. Otherwise, probably not. In any event, the obvious player who shall be freed from his puny contract is Kevin Love. The rebounding machine will make $5.35 a year over the next two seasons. No doubt he can massively improve on that number if given the chance to freely negotiate.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Well, we’re 3/3 for teams filled with cheap contracts. Only Kevin Durant makes above $8m. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are reasonable, even strong candidates to cut the cord, but the honor is ultimately bestowed upon Serge Ibaka. He’ll barely make over $2.2m per season over the next three years. That’s in line with BJ Mullens and behind Kansan stiff, Cole Aldrich. Now that’s a crying shame.

Portland Trail Blazers

Finally, a team with some real salary cap issues. $23m next year is wrapped up between injury magnets Roy and Oden. LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace make 8 figures a year and Marcus Camby isn’t far behind. Amongst all these Scrooge McDucks swimming in seas of money is Nicolas Batum. As a do-it-all small forward, Le Pippen is grossly underpaid at just $2.5m/yr. Batum is by no means going to get a $10m a year deal (one would hope), but he’s certainly worth more than his current salary.

Utah Jazz

Al Jefferson is overpaid at $14m. Okur is grossly overpaid, mainly because he’s been injured, at $11m. Everyone else on the team is either paid at or slightly above market value. However, if one player is to be set free it’ll be Paul Milsap. He’s a smidgen underpaid at $7m a year and will get the chance to escape from Big Al’s big shadow. Maybe he should try Miami. I hear he plays pretty well there.

 

*As pointed out in the comments section, it’s highly unlikely the players cut wouldn’t be paid their cash money. Sometimes, I get carried away in my writing. Rein me in, people. Rein me in.

Seth Carstens