The Los Angeles Lakers are facing yet another busy offseason this year. The sixteen-time champions will be trying to create a roster that gives them the best chance of hanging their seventeenth championship banner from the rafters of Staples Center.
However, they will be doing so by facing a ton of uncertainty this summer, especially in late June through early July, due to some big decisions that will be made by both management and the players themselves. One of those questions is in regards to whether or not the Lakers will use their amnesty clause this year. Per the new collective bargaining agreement, a team can use a one-time amnesty clause on a player, and the salary of that waived player will not count toward the salary cap or luxury tax.
A team can only amnesty a player that was on the team’s roster in July of 2011. Kobe Bryant ($30.5 million), Pau Gasol ($19.3 million), Metta World Peace ($7.7 million) and Steve Blake ($4 million) are the only players eligible for the Lakers to amnesty. Teams can only use their amnesty (if they decide to use it) from July 10 through July 17 only until it rolls over to next year if unused.
Since the Lakers are facing a luxury tax of approximately $85 million (on top of their bankroll) if Dwight re-signs, we asked some of our Lakers Nation writers: Will the Lakers use their amnesty clause this offseason? If so, on who? Here’s what they had to say.
Daniel Buerge (@danielbuerge_LA): This is a tough one. When the offseason began I would have said with absolute confidence that the Lakers would use their amnesty provision this summer. Now, I’m not so sure. I’ve heard some rumors say that the team might use it on Pau Gasol. I’ll tell you right now that that isn’t happening. The other name that was floating around was Steve Blake. Considering the Lakers had a starting backcourt of Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock in the playoffs this season, I’m thinking they’re going to want to keep Blake around.
That leaves Metta World Peace. It seemed logical for the Lakers to use their amnesty clause on World Peace due to declining performance over the last two seasons, but now I’m not so sure. After all, what’s to be gained? It wouldn’t help the team too much (just $7.7 million against the cap), and it’s not like that open space is going to let the Lakers sign a difference maker that will be the difference between winning and losing next season. The team looks to already be in significant trouble next season, and the presence of World Peace on the roster isn’t going to chance that.
So, for right now, my money is on the team holding off on using their amnesty clause in 2013.
Ross Gasmer (@Ross_Gasmer12): It almost makes too much sense for the Lakers to use their amnesty clause on either Pau Gasol or Metta World Peace this offseason.
However, I do believe the most likely scenario is for the team to amnesty World Peace after he opts-into his $7.7 million option.
World Peace is a classic candidate to be amnestied since the Lakers are trying to get younger on the perimeter and with their cap space close to nothing, they need to use that money in a better capacity.
The only downfall of using the amnesty clause on World Peace is the fact that it’s highly unlikely the Lakers would be able to afford someone more than capable to fill-in at the small forward position.
Also, a lot will depend on if Dwight Howard is to re-sign with the team as Mitch Kupchak said the Lakers’ summer plans revolve around what Howard decides to do.
While Gasol won’t be a candidate for the amnesty provision, I fully expect for Metta World Peace to be amnestied sometime over the summer.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): The Los Angeles Lakers are headed into unfamiliar territory this offseason with the storied NBA franchise restricted with moves that can be made. The luxury tax will continue to take a toll on the Lakers moving forward, leading to speculation that the team will attempt to save money by using the amnesty clause that will expire after the upcoming season.
The players eligible to be amnestied are Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. Although the team stands to save a considerable amount of money by amnestying Kobe or Pau, Mitch Kupchak and company will likely not part ways with either player, leaving Blake and World Peace as the top candidates.
With the point guard position thin with Chris Duhon, Andrew Goudelock and even Jodie Meeks (traditional a shooting guard) potentially not returning, keeping Blake in the rotation along with Darius Morris and Steve Nash makes sense.
If any player will be let go via the amnesty clause it will be World Peace. With World Peace recently letting it be known that he’ll be opting in on the final year of his deal ($7.7 million), the team may very well amnesty the veteran forward.
Although World Peace still provides some value to the team, I don’t believe it’s enough to merit keeping him. World Peace will be amnestied shortly after exercising the option for the final year of his contract.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): There sure are a lot of tough questions facing the Lakers this offseason. While this summer’s roster changes by the Lakers are dependent on Dwight Howard’s free agency decision, the possibility of the Lakers using their one-and-only amnesty provision allowed by the CBA is a reality.
I think it’s safe to say that we can check Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake off of the potential victims list of the amnesty cause. Blake is a rather important reserve as we saw firsthand last season when Steve Nash was sidelined for the majority of the season with multiple injuries. As for Kobe, well, he is Kobe. There is no way the Lakers would amnesty their franchise star and arguably their best player in team history, even if it saves them close to $80 million in luxury taxes.
I do not see the Lakers using the amnesty clause on Pau Gasol as his future with the Lakers is too dependent on whether or not Dwight re-signs. Therefore, I do believe that if the Lakers do decide to use their one-time amnesty, which I believe they will, it will be used on Metta World Peace’s $7.7 million contract. While amnestying Metta won’t drop them under the salary cap limit, it would be up to a $30 million savings, which is a start. Of course, he must exercise his player-option first for this to happen.