The NBA's latest collective bargaining agreement put in the amnesty provision, allowing teams the ability to wipe unwanted contracts from their salary caps. Teams still have to pay the waived player's salary under the provision, but are provided relief in the respect that those payments can be offset by the player's new contract on another team.
Essentially, the amnesty provision is a nice little trick to get out from under some ugly contracts. The majority of NBA teams have taken advantage of the clause over the past couple of offseasons, too, as such luminaries as Darko Milicic, Gilbert Arenas and, this year, Tyrus Thomas have been swept under the salary cap rug so their former NBA teams could afford players worth more bang for their buck.
There are plenty of other players still available to be amnestied, however. Every player who was under contract prior to the lockout and plays on a team that has yet to use its amnesty provision is potentially on the chopping block.
And, lucky for us, the great Marc Stein of ESPN put together a handy list of the 34 remaining players who are still allowed to be amnestied.
Atlanta: Al Horford
Boston: Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo
Chicago: Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah
Detroit: Greg Monroe, Charlie Villanueva
Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace (expected, but not official)
Memphis: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph
Miami: Joel Anthony, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, LeBron James, Mike Miller, Dwyane Wade
Milwaukee: Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders
Oklahoma City: Nick Collison, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha
Sacramento: DeMarcus Cousins, John Salmons
San Antonio: Matt Bonner, Tony Parker
Toronto: Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza
Utah: Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward
Obviously, players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Joakim Noah won't be sent to the waiver wire in order for their team to get some simple relief under the salary cap. But there are a few players who might get caught up in the business side of basketball as teams crunch the numbers on their available options.
Listed below are explanations for some of the more likely candidates.
Kendrick Perkins, Thunder - Oklahoma City employs quite a few big men who aren't especially awesome NBA players (Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton and unproven rookie Steven Adams). Despite their shortcomings, though, all of those players are on considerably nicer contracts than the $18.6 million Perkins is owed over the next two seasons. One would think those players might also be able to match the 2.2 points and 3.7 rebounds that Perkins averaged while starting 11 playoff games this year, too -- and those numbers would be much more in tune with their salaries.
Charlie Villanueva, Pistons - The five-year, $38 million contract Villanueva signed four years ago didn't seem to be much of a value at the time. Fast forward to now, when Villanueva will be the second-highest paid player on the team as the fourth big ... and, well, it makes sense to cut ties with the contract in order to free up some cap space.
Drew Gooden, Bucks - The Bucks don't necessarily need Gooden with former first-round picks Larry Sanders, John Henson and Ekpe Udoh all needing more playing time in order to reach their full potential. They don't currently have a reason to amnesty him, either, but saving nearly $14 million in cap space over the next two seasons might be reason enough considering Sanders is their only other option if they're going to use it.
Carlos Boozer, Bulls - This move isn't as likely as some of the other players on this list, but Boozer's owed over $32 million in salary over the next two years. Considering Taj Gibson has proven to be solid enough in his minutes and the Bulls' ability to play small ball, it'd make sense for Chicago to see if it can't find a cheaper frontcourt option -- though his productivity (16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds last season) would be hard to find on the open market.
Mike Miller, Heat - Miller has hit some big shots for Miami in the last two NBA Finals, but his back is forever aching and the South Dakota native is not getting any younger. Factor in the $12.8 million they'll save that will take the Heat out of the third tier of the tax threshold (ESPN's Amin Elhassan explains that bit here) and knowing there are cheaper players with similar skillsets, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Miller amnestied.
Linas Kleiza, Raptors - The Raptors don't really have much use for Kleiza and, with the new regime in town, it makes sense that they'd continue cutting ties with some of the less-necessary players brought in before them. Kleiza's owed a manageable $4.6 million this year, the final of his contract, but Masai Ujiri could likely find a few players on minimum contracts that can replace what the Lithuanian has been able to provide since microfracture surgery. That, along with the fact that Kleiza's never been able to post a PER above 15 (the league average) in his seven NBA seasons, means Toronto likely wouldn't regret cutting ties with the 28-year-old who has seen better days.
John Salmons, Kings - Salmons has been talked about being a possible amnesty candidate for the Kings, but they haven't needed to pull the trigger just yet. It shouldn't take too much convincing to do so when Sacramento needs the cap room. The move would save the Kings $8.5 million in guaranteed salary over the next two years if they cut ties with the player who has struggled since returning to Sacramento.