Bill Simmons and Jonathan Abrams of Grantland look at each team’s contracts and decide which deal each team should lose if the new collective bargaining agreement includes an amnesty clause. Here were their thoughts on the Pistons:
Abrams: Richard Hamilton ($25 million over the next two years). A sad but necessary and overdue parting. Detroit could also look at trimming off the longer-termed contracts of Ben Gordon ($37.2 million through 2014) and Charlie Villanueva ($24.2 through 2014), but Hamilton makes the most sense for the Pistons: Their championship team dissipated long ago, and Hamilton has soured on the organization.
Simmons: I don’t feel sad. By the way, congratulations to Joe Dumars for tying Isiah Thomas’ “three legitimate amnesty clause candidates” record from 2005.
Abrams mentions the usual suspects — Hamilton, Gordon and Villanueva (though I’ve always thought that Jason Maxiell would be a darkhorse amnesty casualty).
This is another hotly contested debate around here simply because Hamilton’s contract isn’t the worst of those three albatrosses and, when he actually tries on defense, he’s a bit better overall player than Gordon. But, on the flip side, Hamilton is in his 30s while there is still some slim hope that Gordon or Villanueva could return from the abyss and perhaps rebuild their damaged trade value a bit. Plus, those two are signed longer than Hamilton, so the financial commitment to just pay them to not be on the team would be greater.
Abrams and Simmons are right — it makes the most sense to get rid of Hamilton because all signs point to him not really wanting to be here anymore, a factor that makes the hypothetical decision more than just strictly a basketball one. Plus, his long-time teammates Tayshaun Prince (free agent) and Ben Wallace (retirement speculation) are not locks to return, so would Hamilton’s demeanor improve as the last man standing from a bygone era?
But consider the can of worms opened — who are you getting rid of if there is an amnesty provision?