One player can be waived prior to the start of any season (only one player can be amnestied during the agreement, and contracts signed under the new CBA are not eligible). The salary of the waived player will not count toward the salary cap or luxury tax. Teams with cap room can submit competing offers to acquire an amnestied player (at a reduced rate) before he hits free agency and can sign with any team.
How it will affect the Pistons
The Pistons have indicated they won’t use the amnesty clause this year, a good move I think.
First of all, any of their four(!) amnesty candidates – Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell – could play themselves into being valuable enough to trade. The least like to do that, Maxiell, has the smallest contract.
If the Pistons amnesty the wrong player, they can no longer trade him, and the player deserving to be amnestied will continue to count against the cap. Just in that regard, it makes some sense to wait to next year.
Also, and probably more importantly, the potential cap room created by amnestying a player might not be overwhelming this year.
The salary cap will be $58 million. The Pistons have $48,939,220 committed to nine players* – Hamilton, Gordon, Villanueva, Maxiell, Will Bynum, Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, Austin Daye and Brandon Knight.**
*Given the timing of Terrico White’s release, I’m guessing he won’t count against the cap. The Pistons – and again, I’m guessing – probably got a one-time chance to release him, a negotiated compromise between the owners and players for guys like White, whose contracts were scheduled to become guaranteed during the lockout. Otherwise, Detroit would’ve been more likely to at least bring him to training camp.
**Knight will probably earn $2,238,360 this year, 120 percent of the rookie scale for the No. 8 pick. But if the Pistons wait to sign him until signing other free agents, he’ll count at just 100 percent of the rookie scale, $1,865,300, in the meantime.
If the Pistons want to use their amnesty clause to create cap room, they’d probably be comfortable renouncing Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox and Tracy McGrady. But they’d probably still want to keep Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko either way.
Stuckey will count $6,917,815 against the cap until signed. Jerebko will count $1,059,293 until signed.*
*This means, if the Pistons plan to give them first-year salaries higher than that figure, they should wait until they’ve completed other moves before signing them.
Add a minimum-salary roster charge, and that brings the Pistons’ cap number to $57,389,932, just under the $58 million salary cap.
But – and this is a big but – the Pistons don’t have complete control over keeping Stuckey and Jerebko. Either could sign an offer sheet before the Pistons have spent their newly created cap room, and that could cut drastically into it.
I estimate Stuckey will earn $7.5 million next year, and Jerebko will make $3.5 million. Those salaries would make amnestying another player less useful.
Remember, even without cap room, the Pistons would still have the mid-level exception (which starts at $5 million) to spend.
Here’s how much extra cap room (above the $5 million mid-level exception) the Pistons would gain by waiving any of their four(!) amnesty candidates if they can convince Stuckey and Jerebko to wait on signing:
- Richard Hamilton: $7,636,464
- Ben Gordon: $6,736,464
- Charlie Villanueva: $2,676,464
- Jason Maxiell: $136,464
Here’s how much cap room they would gain if Stuckey and Jerebko sign for their estimated amounts – either with the Pistons, or an offer sheet the Pistons match – before Detroit has a chance to sign other free agents:
If the Pistons know Jerebko and Stuckey wouldn’t sign offer sheets elsewhere and would be willing to wait for their contracts, amnestying either Hamilton or Gordon this year might make sense. If not, waiting a year probably makes the most sense.
Either way, without other moves, amnestying Villanueva or Maxiell this year would provide little to no extra cap room.