To amnesty or not to amnesty, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to keep an expiring contract or shed the player to suffer the slings and arrows of the cap hit—while still paying the amnestied player—is a question 11 teams will decide in the ensuing week. We’ve got three amnesty candidates who should stay with their respective teams, but are at risk this week.
The 2011 CBA allows teams to amnesty players who were under contract before July 1, 2011, and have remained on a team’s books since that time. With 18 teams—most recently the Lakers and Metta World Peace—already electing to amnesty a player, that leaves just 12 teams (the Pelicans don’t have any amnesty candidates left on their roster) who can use the clause between today’s end of the July moratorium and July 16. It’s a brutal week for a small contingent of NBA players, which Marc Stein at ESPN.com helpfully lists in this TrueHoop post.
Right now, with 18 teams already having used the amnesty provision, and the Pelicans unable to use it, that leaves 30 players from 11 different teams who could be amnestied in the next week. But we can knock a few more off, like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Mike Conley, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh—you get the idea.
Of those 30 players, only about seven of them are in true danger: Linas Kleiza,Charlie Villanueva, John Salmons, Mike Miller, Kendrick Perkins, Drew Gooden and Carlos Boozer.
Of those seven, here are three who should not be amnestied:
3. Mike Miller
Miller, unlike another player on this list, has two years remaining on the five-year, $29 million deal he signed with the Miami Heat in that fabled summer of 2010. Yes, the same one where ‘Bron, Wade and Bosh all threw a victory party before they’d won a thing. Three years, three Finals appearances and two back-to-back championships later and here we are with Miller due $6.2 million next season and with a player option (which he’d be a fool not to exercise) for $6.6 million in 2014-15.
If the Heat amnesty Miller, they’d effectively drop down a tier in the NBA’s non-repeater luxury tax system. Right now, they’re at the top of the third tier ($10-14.99 million), which taxes $2.50 for every $1 over the $71.7 luxury tax line for the 2013-14 season. The Heat organization owes over $86 million in salary for next season, including some cap holds that will come off the books. By amnestying Miller, they would drop down to the $5-$9.99 million range—which only taxes $1.75 for every $1 over. That’s substantial luxury tax savings, but it’s not really worth it since they’re still paying Miller’s salary and just shaving some—but not all—off the taxes they’ll owe.
It’s also important to note Miller hit a bunch of three-pointers in this year’s playoffs and especially in the resounding 2012 Finals defeat of the Thunder. Maybe his clutch shooting isn’t so replaceable. Yes, the luxury taxes are going to hurt, but for a team that’s appeared in the NBA Finals the last three season, why mess with a good thing? Miller might look like a geriatric who got lost on the way to a Shuffleboard court as he’s ambling down the hardwood like Pinocchio, but he’s money when it counts. So if the Heat are wise, they’ll spend the money in luxury taxes for Miller’s money performances every spring and summer, regardless of the temptation to amnesty him.