Nielsen on NBA: The 2013 amnesty candidates

Carlos Boozer, Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace are all eligible to be amnestied this summer. (Getty Images)

We are in Year 3 of the current NBA collective bargaining agreement so the number of amnesty eligible candidates is beginning to dwindle rapidly.

Half the league has already taken advantage of the amnesty clause and the number of contracts signed prior to the agreement has dwindled to 38.

The amnesty clause was placed into the last CBA to allow teams to shed bad contracts.

In order to use it, a contract had to be signed before the new CBA was approved and the team must still pay out the full contract to the player.

The advantage gained would be the fact that the salary no longer counts against the cap.

Each team is allowed to use the clause once between now and the time that the CBA expires and six teams have already exercised the option.

Here is a list of whom each team might amnesty between July 8 and July 15:

Atlanta Hawks – None

The only player eligible to be amnestied on the Hawks is Al Horford. He’s the Hawks’ best player and they already have plenty of cap space with which to build around him.

Boston Celtics – Paul Pierce (One year, $15 million)

The Celtics have three players eligible to be amnestied in Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Paul Pierce. It would be highly unlikely to see the Celtics amnesty Pierce as he has a buyout option in his contract in which Boston could save $10 million but the option is open if they need to free up more cap space.

Brooklyn Nets — already used (Travis Outlaw)

Cleveland Cavaliers — already used (Baron Davis)

Charlotte Bobcats — Tyrus Thomas (2 years, $18 million)

The Bobcats’ list of amnesty-eligible players consists solely of Tyrus Thomas. He only managed 26 appearances for the Bobcats while posting meagre averages of 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Thomas has also managed to be a distraction during his time in Charlotte which would make him an obvious candidate as the team tries to train their young players professionally. The stumbling block: this is a thrifty bunch of Bobcats who might not like the idea of giving $18 million to a player just to be free of him.

Chicago Bulls — Carlos Boozer (2 years, $32.1 million)

There are three possibilities for the Bulls to use the amnesty clause: Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. Every year rumours persist that Boozer, and to a lesser extent Deng, will be amnestied but neither option seems realistic. If the Bulls were to look to make a change, either player would attract interest on the trade market, netting valuable assets in return rather than making a move that wouldn’t put Chicago under the luxury tax limit and gain the team any flexibility.

Dallas Mavericks — already used (Brendan Haywood)

Denver Nuggets — already used (Chris Andersen)

Detroit Pistons — Charlie Villanueva (1 years, $8,580,000)

The Pistons’ list of amnesty-eligible candidates includes Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe. Let’s face it, Monroe isn’t going anywhere as he is a building block for the team’s future. The Pistons have plenty of cap space this summer and unless they are able to attract one of the bigger-name free agents, it would seem like an odd choice to clear Villanueva’s expiring contract off the books.

Golden State Warriors — already used (Charlie Bell)

Houston Rockets — already used (Luis Scola)

Indiana Pacers — already used (James Posey)

L.A. Clippers – already used (Ryan Gomes)

L.A. Lakers – Metta World Peace (One year, $8 million)

Looking at their massive wage bill, it is no surprise that the Los Angeles Lakers have a large number of amnesty candidates and the list includes Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. The team will be unable to get under the luxury tax even if they were to cut Bryant or Gasol but it certainly would make the bill much easier to swallow. Blake is the least-likely candidate as he is owed $4 million next season. Gasol is a good candidate if they can hang onto Dwight Howard while Bryant is also a good candiadate because of his injury, although the history he has with the Lakers make it a remote possibility. That leaves us with the last year of World Peace’s deal.

Memphis Grizzlies — Zach Randolph (Two year, $34.3 million)

The Grizzlies’ list has dwindled to two including Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. The latter seems the more likely candidate to be amnestied but the front office will likely find a less-expensive, more-creative way to create space if need be. Given that they aren’t in the tax and Randolph’s productivity, it seems like they will pass on using the clause this summer.

Miami Heat — Mike Miller (Two years, $12.8 million)

The lengthy list of amnesty candidates in Miami includes Joel Anthony, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, LeBron James, Mike Miller and Dwyane Wade. Let’s face it, the two-time champs may make changes but we won’t see the Big Three being amnestied. Miller seems like the most obvious candidate as he earns the highest wage. Given the team’s struggles to find inside help, Haslem seems an unlikely candidate as he didn’t see much action in the Finals. On the flip side of the coin, Anthony rarely plays but also takes in a relatively meager sum.

Milwaukee Bucks — Drew Gooden (Two years, $13.3 million)

The Bucks could undergo heavy changes this summer as their top three guards J.J. Redick, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will all be free agents. The team’s three amnesty candidates are all in the frontcourt and include Drew Gooden, Luc Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders. The latter is going nowhere which brings us to Mbah a Moute and Gooden. Mbah a Moute played heavy minutes for Milwaukee this season while Gooden rarely saw court time. Given the Bucks’ abundance of cap space, they don’t have to make a move but the extra space could be the key in improving the team going forward.

Minnesota Timberwolves — already used (Darko Milicic)

New York Knicks — already used (Chauncey Billups)

New Orleans Hornets — None

The Hornets do not have any amnesty options on the roster.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Kendrick Perkins (Two years, $17.7 million)

The list of amnesty candidates in Oklahoma City is down to Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison. I won’t waste time talking about anyone other than Perkins here. If the Thunder are going to improve next season, Perkins has got to go. He was unplayable in the playoffs although he still saw more than 200 minutes of action despite posting the worst PER of all time. The front office still seems to believe he is useful though.

Orlando Magic — already used (Gilbert Arenas)

Philadelphia 76ers — already used (Elton Brand)

Phoenix Suns — already used (Josh Childress)

Portland Trail Blazers — already used (Brandon Roy)

Sacramento Kings — John Salmons (One years, $7.5 million)<

The Kings only have two options at this point: DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons. Cleary Cousins is a keeper so the obvious candidate becomes Salmons. Unless the Kings are expecting to make a huge splash in free agency this summer, there appears to be little reason to make the move for a player who may have use to the team.

San Antonio Spurs — Matt Bonner (One year, $3.9 million

The Spurs can use the amnesty clause on Tony parker and Matt Bonner. With the French point guard being one of the best players in the game, the Red Rocket would be the clear choice here. Normally I would argue against wasting money to get rid of a player on an expiring contract but San Antonio has some serious cap space to play with this summer and Bonner’s smallish salary could be the difference between signing a star and signing a superstar.

Toronto Raptors – Andrea Bargnani (Two years, $23 million)

How times change. A year ago I suggested the Raptors let go of Amir Johnson but he may have been the team’s best player last season. This year’s top candidates are Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza. Some believe the big Italian has trade value but the question is: What do you get in return? Kleiza’s expiring smallish deal means that he could be used as a trade chip. It would be a surprise to see both back next season though.

Utah Jazz — None

Utah’s options are Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Since both are essential to the team’s long-term plans, they will both be staying put.

Washington Wizards — already used (Andray Blatche)

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