After the Sacramento Kings sent John Salmons to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, only Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls and Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder remain realistic candidates to be amnestied.
In fact, there are 10 total players who are amnesty-eligible, but given who they are and their respective situations, only Boozer and Perkins make sense as potential amnesty casualties.
The full list:
|Al Horford||Atlanta Hawks|
|Rajon Rondo||Boston Celtics|
|Carlos Boozer||Chicago Bulls|
|Joakim Noah||Chicago Bulls|
|Mike Conley||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Zach Randolph||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Nick Collison||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Kendrick Perkins||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Tony Parker||San Antonio Spurs|
And when you read those 10 names you'll understand why Boozer and Perkins, now that Salmons has been dealt, are realistically the last two who can generate any legitimate amnesty speculation until the next collective bargaining agreement.
The caveat here is that the Bulls and Thunder only might use their amnesty provisions. Just because they have them available doesn't mean that using them is what's in the best interest of the team, though there's an argument in each case.
For a team like the Thunder, who are looking to contend for a title, Perkins could easily be considered a liability. In the 2013 playoffs, Perkins finished with 24 points and 39 fouls. He posted a negative PER in the playoffs of -0.6, according to Basketball-Reference.com. That atrocious metric means that he was a liability when everything was on the line. With the surprisingly quick development of rookie center Steven Adams, the final $9.4 million remaining on Perkins' contract for next season could be cut. Axing him may get the Thunder to dip slightly under the salary cap, depending on where it comes in next season, but wouldn't create much flexibility.
Oklahoma City already has $68.8 million committed in salary with Perkins for next season, according to Sham Sports.
In Boozer's case, the cap-conscious Bulls could save big if they rid themselves of his close to $17 million salary next season in conjunction with letting Luol Deng walk via free agency. The improved play of Taj Gibson could also help make the Bulls' potential decision to cut Boozer easier.
Gibson and Boozer are contributing at a near-identical rate in two key metrics. They each have 1.3 win shares through 18 games, while putting up a 16.9 and 17.0 efficiency rating over that same stretch, entering Tuesday night. Gibson's price tag in 2014-15 will be nearly $9 million less than Boozer's, and that significant savings could net them more pieces to build a serious contender. The Bulls also own the rights to Real Madrid forward Nikola Mirotic, who may be seeking more money than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. If that's the case, the Bulls would likely have to dump Boozer in addition to letting Deng walk to have the space to sign him.
Both scenarios warrant careful consideration by each team, but the likelihood of an amnesty happening depends on each player's performance in the immediate future.