Christmas comes early! With the NBA season to finally begin on Dec. 25th, fans, players, and owners alike are all excited for pro basketball to finally get underway. With the ratification of the newest labor deal, the owners have received an early gift – the right to erase one bad contract from their books with a new “Amnesty Clause”.
The details of the agreement were much discussed in the offseason, but it wasn’t until the final details were hashed that fans could really begin to get a sense of how this new provision will affect the league. A summary of the key details is as follows:
Amnesty Clause Basics
- Each team is permitted to waive 1 player and have 100% of the player’s salary removed for Cap and Tax purposes
- Once a player is waived under the Amnesty Clause, they are placed in a modified waiver process available only to teams under the Salary Cap.
- Teams with room under the cap can then submit a claim on players by bidding to pay a portion of the player’s previous salary
- Once part of a player’s salary is claimed by a new team, the old team will continue to pay the remaining amount (though it won’t count against the Cap or Tax).
The details are interesting because it creates a system much different than many analysts predicted in the offseason. Whereas someone might have expected a number of talented but overpaid players cut under an amnesty clause (like Rashard Lewis or Gilbert Arenas) to simply flock to contenders (like the Heat or Lakers) as free agents, these players would now have to remain unclaimed by all teams under the salary cap before a cap-laden contender could snatch them up.
The waiver system may eliminate the stockpiling of freshly released weapons by contenders that many anticipated, but it should still guarantee a crazy reshuffling in a shortened offseason. As a basketball fan thrilled to have the season back, I can’t wait!