Most likely amnesty cut: Charlie Villanueva
How likely to use amnesty this season? Jump ball
Other amnesty candidates: Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon
Analysis: It’s widely assumed that the Pistons will waive Rip after all of last season’s chaos. He’s scheduled to earn $12.5 million this season and he has a partially guaranteed contract worth $9 million in 2012-13. Throw in the fact that the 33-year-old was seriously unhappy throughout the short-lived John Kuester era, plus Detroit’s longstanding struggles to find a trade taker for him, and amnesty sounds like a natural solution.
Yet sources say the Pistons still believe Hamilton has some trade appeal to contending teams, particularly as he moves closer to the end of his contract. Debatable as rival teams might find that stance, word is Villanueva looms as the more probable amnesty option.
Villanueva has $24 million left on his contract and averaged a mere 3.9 rebounds per game last season while earning $7.5 million. Gordon, meanwhile, is still owed $37 million and coming off a similarly punchless season for a team overflowing with guards. Which one will it be? Someone will go, but cutting ties with either would be an expensive admission for Joe Dumars that the Pistons’ substantial 2009 summer funds were misspent. The latest word is that the Pistons, with new owner Tom Gores still just settling in, have yet to make a firm decision on exactly whom to release.
If the Pistons can wait two years to use the amnesty clause, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported could be possible, should they do it? Right now, they don’t have a clear target. Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are all capable of playing well. By waiting until next offseason, Detroit could better assess those players – at the risk of paying them another year.