Amnesty candidates: Villanueva, Gordon, Hamilton


One of the more interesting debates going on in fan circles is who exactly their team would waive if the new collective bargaining agreement were to include an amnesty provision similar to the one used in 2005. The 2011 version, however, appears to be on steroids.

Unlike in 2005, this new version will not just allow teams to waive a player and have the relief count toward their luxury tax bill, it will also allow 75 percent of the waived player’s salary to be removed from the team’s cap as well. This means that while the player still gets paid by the team it frees up all kinds of new money to spend on free agents. Also unlike the ’05 version, teams will have two years to decide whether to use the amnesty clause.

With all that in mind, let us go over the primary candidates for the amnesty provision for the Detroit Pistons. We know the names well by now: Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton. I used to also include Jason Maxiell on this list but with the new development that a team can also reap cap room by excising a player, I think that takes a moderately salaried player such as Maxiell off the table.

ESPN recently took a look at every NBA team and decided on the best candidate to get the axe. Their verdict on the Pistons was Villanueva:

"Most likely amnesty cut:Charlie VillanuevaHow likely to use amnesty this season? Jump ballOther amnesty candidates: Rip Hamilton, Ben GordonAnalysis: 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."

I completely agree with this assessment. While Gordon and Villanueva have been equally ineffective since joining the Pistons, I’d say Gordon has been the bigger disappointment. He is making much more money, still being owed $38 million compared to Villanueva’s $24 million. With that being said, if I could place a bet on one of them improving with the arrival of a competent coach and a slightly less cluttered roster, I’d put my money on Gordon.

But i think it would be an even better wager to assume that the Pistons wait on using their amnesty clause until after this season. It will allow them to see if any of their overpaid veterans rebound to the point of becoming tradeable assets and would also allow them a year to assess their true needs and go into next year with significant cap room to fill some holes.