Rip Hamilton waived by Pistons

Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Pistons guard Rip Hamilton is expected to be waived today, according to a personal familiar with the situation.

Hamilton is owed $22 million over the next two seasons. He was set to make $13 million this season before the lockout and $9 million next season.

First, the business aspects of this: this is a contract buyout, not the Pistons using their amnesty clause. Although the particulars of the buyout aren’t out just yet, it’s a safe assumption that the Pistons did this to save some money in the long run by not paying Hamilton the full amount he was owed. Vince Ellis of the Free Press confirms as much:

Don’t have a figure, but source says buyout considerably less than $20 million he is owed over next two years. Why amnesty wasn’t used.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement might also play into this buyout. See the ‘Stretch Provision’ section from Larry Coon:

2005 CBA: By mutual agreement, teams can alter the payment schedule to waived players. The remaining guaranteed salary is applied to the team’s salary cap across the remaining years of the player’s contract.

2011 CBA: The player’s remaining salary and his cap hit may be stretched across twice the number of seasons remaining on the contract, plus one (for example, the salary and cap hit for a player waived with two seasons remaining may be stretched across five seasons). This is entirely at the team’s discretion, but it applies only to contracts signed under the 2011 CBA.

Who benefits? Teams with bad contracts. For example, if a team has an underperforming player with one season remaining at $12 million, the team can waive him and stretch his salary across three seasons at $4 million per season. This will help with cash flow and provide $8 million in cap relief for the current season.

* Nevermind. As Dan Feldman pointed out, the stretch provision can only be used on contracts starting this year or later, so that is not applicable here.

Now, onto the basketball side of this. Hamilton gone means those Ben Gordon fans clamoring that he’ll return to form once Hamilton is removed from the equation will get their wish. This implies that the starting shooting guard job is probably Gordon’s to lose now. It also means that the Pistons probably have no plans to use the amnesty clause on Gordon at this point, meaning the most likely candidate now, should they use it down the road, would be Charlie Villanueva.

Earlier today, Matt Dery, while writing about the Tayshaun Prince deal, had this to say:

The Pistons need Tayshaun to support the younger players and their development, and the roadblock is that Hamilton is still on the roster.

Prince referred to last season as “buffoonery” and a lot of that was based on John Kuester’s treatment of Rip.  Both sides made mistakes, but Prince knew the Kuester ship was sinking, so he remained on the SS Rip — smart move.  If Hamilton is back and is forced to share minutes again with Ben Gordon, there is nothing that Lawrence Frank can do.

I largely agree with this. Hamilton didn’t have to go for strictly basketball reasons. His fans I’m sure will continue to make the case that he’s the better basketball player still between he and Gordon. But the reports last season about his toxic attitude and its impact on the locker room trump basketball. Frank needs to start this job without a disgruntled, strong presence in the locker room, the Prince-Hamilton support system needed to be broken up, the glut of guards needed to be cleared and Hamilton himself probably needs a change to see if he’d become motivated by once again being part of a contending team. This was the right move for the Pistons.

 

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