Rating the Amnesties

In my last article, I promised that I would rate each occasion where an NBA team waived a player using the amnesty provision, a one-time deal where teams are allowed to waive a player without a cap hit.  However, the salary still had to be paid, and teams under the salary cap could bid for the player’s services prior to free agency.  I have finally gotten around to writing it.  I apologize that it has taken me so long; I have had some motivational issues.  Well, here we go:

  • Philadelphia released PF Elton Brand, who had one year and $18.2 million left on his contract.  I believe that this was a bad move on multiple levels.  For one, Elton Brand was still a really good player last season.  He was above-average in every statistical category except for scoring (both efficiency and net points), defensive rebounds, and fouling.  He blocked shots more than twice as often as the average power forward, and his turnovers are more than 30% below that of an average power forward.  Despite having some major injuries earlier in his career, he has recovered and become almost as good as he used to be.  Another reason that this is a bad deal is because Brand was on an expiring contract.  Expiring contracts are highly valued in the NBA because they give you cap flexibility in the next off-season.  I believe that big expiring contracts are especially valuable because they gain a lot of flexibility and you can acquire more assets than with a smaller deal.  Finally, Philadelphia used that cap space to sign Nick Young, Kwame Brown, and Spencer Hawes, who have three above-average seasons between them.  Of course, Hawes’s only such season was last year, but Young has only had one season in his career in which he did not cost his team wins.  This move was deplorable on three counts for the 76ers.   The only concession that I can make for them is the fact that Brand is thirty-three.      
  • Dallas released C Brendan Haywood, whose contract was still on the books for three years and $27.2 million.  Although this amnesty is more defensible than Brand’s was, this still was not the greatest use of the clause.  Haywood has played eleven seasons in his career, and he was above-average in each one of them except for his injury-shortened 2008-09 campaign.  He is an exceptional offensive rebounder, and he is another player who rarely turns the ball over.  However, this one is not all bad.  Like Brand, Haywood is thirty-three, but unlike Brand, he had three years left on his deal.  I can also understand it considering that Dallas has been in a “sign marquee free agents” mode and is trying to shed salary.  Like I said in my last article, I believe that Mark Cuban may be implementing Arturo Galletti’s “Bullet Scenario,” which differs from out-and-out rebuilding because some of the bad contracts are your own done because of the scenario.  However, Dirk Nowitzki. who is older, more expensive, and less effective, would have been a better candidate.  C-
  • C Darko Milicic, whose contract was still worth $10 million over two years, was released by Minnesota.  If Milicic had ever been good, he would have been the type of player the amnesty provision was designed for.  The only things he has been consistently good at have been shot-blocking and passing, and the assist numbers weren’t there last year.  He has never produced more than 3.6 wins in a season.  I cannot believe that this deal was ever offered, but this is a good example of damage control.  A
  • Houston relased PF Luis Scola, whose contract was worth $21 million over three years.  Scola is another example of the perfect amnesty player.  In each of the past three years, Scola’s production has taken a large hit, and he had a Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes rate of -.015 last year.  His rebounding and scoring efficiency levels, once solid, have gone by the wayside.  He may get even worse, considering that he is thirty-two.  He can still record assists, but that is his last redeeming quality.  This is one of those moves that makes me wonder if Daryl Morey is as good of a GM as he led us to believe, especially since Scola still has value in the eyes of traditionalists.  A
  • Phoenix released SG Josh Childress, removing three years and $20 million from Phoenix’s salary cap figure.  This transaction was just as baffling to me as the fact that this guy rarely played because his rebounding and low turnovers are just off the charts for a shooting guard.  His scoring efficiency went down the toilet last year, but that is the only major sign of decline and may just be a factor of a small sample size (492 minutes).  In every season where he has played in the NBA, Childress has had a WP48 rate of .200 or greater, and he won’t hit thirty until next June.  The Suns only had four reliable players last year (Steve Nash, Childress, Marcin Gortat, and Jared Dudley), and now two of them are gone.  D+
  • PF Chris Andersen was released by Denver, who no longer have $10 million on their cap, spread out over two years.  Chris Andersen is a spectacular player.  The fact that he is spectacular is driven by his outstanding rebound and his out-of-this-world scoring efficiency and shot-blocking.  Producing few assists remains his only fault.  However, I believe that this is a good move, for a couple of reasons.  Earlier this month, Andersen turned thirty-four, which is a major red flag.  He is also under investigation for several counts of cybercrime, and he was suspended from the NBA for two years because of drug abuse.  Furthermore, while this should not help justify the move, “Birdman” was a victim of George Karl’s poor talent evaluation, and he participated in all of 486 minutes last year.  B+
  • Washington released PF Andray Blatche, who had three years and $23 million remaining on his contract.  Blatche has never been good, but this year was his worst yet.  He cost his the Wizards 1.4 wins last year, even though he only played 626 minutes.  His Effective Field Goal Percentage was a woeful 38.4%, and he only recorded 0.90 Points Per Shot (the average centers has a rate of 1.29).  Furthermore, his rebounding and shot-blocking sorely lacked, which is just sad for a big.  The only thing he did well was not foul.  I cannot believe that he ever got a big contract.  A
  • The Clippers waived SF Ryan Gomes, who was owed $4 million this season.  The Clippers made a decent move here.  Gomes declined greatly last year as his assists were almost halved, his rebounding took a big hit, and his scoring efficiency was reduced to a despicable 0.78 Points Per Shot.  Gomes was once a good player, routinely one that you would want on your bench, but that no longer is the case.  Since he will turn thirty in September, it is doubtful that he will retain much of his former skill.  On the flip side, Gomes only had $4 million left on his contract, and it was an expiring deal.  However, this was not a bad move.  B

While writing this article, I noticed that three-quarters of the players released this season were bigs.  I suppose that part of this relates to the fact that bigs are often paid more than other players, but I’m not sure if this is the whole story.  Thank you for reading, and please comment.

        

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