The Amnesty Clause: To Be Used On Emeka Okafor?

Okafor is a shot-blocker, but is he also killing the Hornets cap space?

An interesting part of a new CBA deal will be whether an amnesty clause is instituted. For those who don’t know what such a clause is, in basic terms it’s where a team can part ways with a player (releasing him) and not counting his salary against the cap. They still pay him the remainder of his deal, but it is separate and the owner will usually do this.

There is a recent case where an Amnesty Clause was in effect. It was for one season, after the last CBA negotiations. Back then, teams had the right to release a player, still pay his salary, but his salary was only counted towards the regular cap and not the luxury tax. Essentially it was to get rid of players that were killing the team when they were over the luxury tax.

But the owners are pushing for a $45 Million Dollar hard cap, which could constitute a different kind of Amnesty clause. If we adjust it to mean that, “A team can release a player, pay out their salary but it not count against the salary cap AND luxury tax,” then things become interesting for the Hornets.

Emeka Okafor is making a fair amount of money over the next 3 years. He makes 12.5, 13.5 and 14.5 million dollars in the upcoming 3 seasons. That’s 40.5 million dollars committed, guaranteed and locked up. We’ve already discussed David West‘s contract situation and it puts things into perspective. If Okafor is making too much, than surely West deserves a maximum contract, right?

Well traditionally Centers get payed a premium, even if it’s not fair. Okafor’s contract is surely generous, but you aren’t going to find to many guys around the league that average 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots a game. Emeka certainly needs to improve his game, but he still presents solid value for this team.

Portland gives some perspective on the matter, because they are discussing whether they should use it on Brandon Roy, the face of their franchise, yet they are still uncertain as to whether they want to do it:

The decision whether to cut Brandon is going to cause more soul-searching than most teams will have to do.  Pre-injury Roy was The Man on this team.  Few teams are going to be losing their former #1 guy–a young guy and maybe a potential star again–through this provision.  We’re talking Baron Davis or Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, and Rashard Lewis here…no-brainers.  It’s not as clear cut for Portland.  It could be good for Portland but it’s not guaranteed they’d even use it.

If an Amnesty Clause were instituted fans might want it used on Okafor. I don’t know if we really should. Finding starting, defensive, shot-blocking centers, who can also get things going offensively from time to time, is tough in the NBA. He’s no Tyson Chandler, he’s no Nene Hilario, he’s just Emeka Okafor.

If we used it on Okafor, then we’d almost certainly have someone waiting in the wings to fill his void at a cheaper price. You find me someone who can do that, then I’ll start to listen.

You can’t use the Amnesty on him and then resign him for cheaper, that’s against the rules. Only after one full season can you resign the player and I have a feeling someone might pick him up immediately after he was dropped. Also if it’s anything like the old one then it would be pointless because we [the Hornets] aren’t over the luxury tax. But if it was one in which you could get rid of the salary counting against the salary cap then maybe we’d give it some thought.

I don’t think we will use it on Okafor though. While it would clear up some room salary wise, there would be a gapping hole on the roster. I’d very much love it if David West was getting paid 12.5 million and Okafor 8 million, but that’s not how things are. Emeka is a good starting center in this league, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. An Amnesty clause probably wouldn’t be used by the Hornets if it were instituted, which seems odd. The Hornets, just 2 years ago needed something like that in the worst way, but now they don’t really.

Embracing our core group of players, and building around them is what we ought to do, so giving credence to this Amnesty Clause, does the Hornets little use.

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Tags: David Stern David West Emeka Okafor New Orleans Hornets

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