Holt driving a new amnesty provision

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richard-jefferson-spurs-amnesty

Photo credit: Keith Allison

We’ve suspected for some time that there would be a new amnesty provision built into the next CBA. At this point, that’s pretty much guaranteed. In fact, they’re going a step further and putting in a stretch provision too which should provide additional cap relief for teams. But going back to the amnesty rule, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on Friday that Spurs owner Peter Holt was the leading voice on giving teams two years to decide who to use the amnesty rule on.

At first thought, this is a little curious, no? The Spurs screwed up on Richard Jefferson’s contract. There are practically no other candidates for using the amnesty rule on, outside of Varner’s suggestion that they could use it on what’s left of Antonio McDyess’s contract if Dice retires. Also, the Spurs will probably pay the luxury tax this season. Wouldn’t the Spurs want to get out from under that financial boulder that RJ dropped on them? (Or that they wedged themselves under?)

Well, not quite. This, like every year since 2005, could be the Spurs’ last ride. But seriously, this time it’s totally the last one. Maybe. Tim Duncan is in the last year of his contract. He could retire next summer or re-sign for a smaller deal. Who knows? I don’t know if you guys realized this or not, but TD’s got a bit of a poker face. Even if he comes back, he’s been on a steady decline. Manu Ginobili is also on the down slope of his career and it’s a good bet that Tony Parker has peaked. There are some good young pieces on the Spurs’ roster, however those pieces are more suited to complimentary roles going forward. I don’t see any future stars in the bunch and, as we’ve learned over the years, stars win you championships. Once the stars are done, you gotta replace them.

Peter Holt, RC Buford and Gregg Popovich may have plans in mind to take one last ride with the current talent and see where they end up next summer. Chances are high that the Spurs don’t win a title and exit the playoffs early. Or, they might wind up being contenders. Either way, paying Richard Jefferson to go away before the season starts makes it hard to replace the talent he brings to the team. Kawhi Leonard and Da’Sean Butler are unknowns. As is James Anderson to an extent. The Spurs will be paying RJ’s salary for the next three seasons anyway, might as well keep him around while they still have some sort of shot at contending.

When the Spurs are ready to rebuild, whether it’s next summer or the summer after, the Spurs could then exercise the amnesty provision on Jefferson and get 75% of his salary all of his moneys (Update: Howard Beck of the New York Times says it’s all going bye-bye under the new CBA) off the books. Or, the books that the salary cap counts against, at least. The extended amnesty window would give the Spurs more flexibility to decide whether Jefferson’s salary against the cap is worth it to try for one more shot at a title.

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  • Tyler

    Good points. Also, another key factor in the Spurs’ amnesty debate is how punitive the luxury tax will be. If it ends up being $20M in tax to cover $10M in salary, it might force the Spurs’ hand.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Tyler, very true. Another point I neglected to mention is that the Spurs may be willing to keep RJ this season in hopes of trading him. Doubtful, but if they had some nibbles pre-lockout, they may be willing to try their hand again and amnesty him before the 2012-13 season.

  • Bry

    They’re thin at the 3, and Leonard will be a raw rookie, so it makes more sense to amnesty him next summer, rather than this one. They’ll likely allow the teams one season to reign in spending and delay some of the more punitive features of the new CBA. Also, like most contracts RJ’s escalates, so this coming season he’s due 9.28 million, but it’s up to 11 million by the final year (when he’ll start the season 33 years old). I’m no fan of his contract, but the first couple of years (while he is still in his prime, and really the only small forward the Spurs have) was fine. It’s only the last couple of years, that are a bad deal. Like Andrew said, he’s also still very tradeable. In fact, he’s really the only salary that the Spurs have (apart from the Big 3) that would be useful in any meaningful trade. I’d predict that they do not use the amnesty on him this season and he is the starter from day 1 all through the playoffs. Then, if they can’t trade him, they use the amnesty next year and shed the salary.

  • Anonymous

    Has there been any indication as to whether the player’s next contract will reduce his previous employer’s liability?   There’s a huge difference between Holt paying Jefferson $30 million over the next three years, regardless of what he makes elsewhere, and Holt paying the difference between the $30 million owed and what someone else pays Jefferson over that time.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Andrew, would a team having Manu, Tony, Splitter, Neal, JA, KL, Blair, etc. be enough to entice D Howard to SA once Timmy’s contract is over after this next season? Providing we also cut RJ loose after the next season? 

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    I doubt it. I get the feeling that Howard is interested in more than basketball. He’s looking to be a star. SA doesn’t quite offer that platform.

  • Bry

    I believe that whatever money he’s paid by another team will be deducted from what Holt has to pay. The problem is both RJ and the next team take that into account, so they’ll likely pay him very little; maybe even the veteran’s minimum. So, there’s little incentive from either side to pay him much and reduce the burden for Spurs ownership. The only exception could be if a bidding war started (very unlikely) or if someone was offering him a longer term deal.

  • Crystakke

    What do you guys think of adding Brandon Roy if the Blazers decide to cut him under this amnesty clause? He can play George Hill’s minutes, depending on how his knees hold up. Probably in the regular season he won’t make a bigger impact , but I bet he can still win a playoff game per series, something George couldn’t really do. And he’d be a guy who can create and take the last shot. 
    Don’t really know how his knees are. I hear only bad things. That Blazers “bad luck” I guess. Maybe under Spurs doctors it will be different. They seem to work miracles sometimes.

  • Jacques

    Why would Brandon Roy go to the Spurs and be Manu’s backup? just like RJ, this guy used to be the leading scorer of the team. SA doesn’t fit him.

  • Tyler

    In regards to his RJ’s trade value, I believe the opposite. I don’t think he has much at all. I don’t think they can trade him. What value is there in an average SF on the wrong side of 30 and guaranteed $30M over the next three seasons? Where is the value there? I don’t see why a team would trade for RJ, especially when the cap is going to be harder, and the lux tax more punitive. Unless the other team is getting something of value (TP, Manu, Leonard, picks, etc), there’s nothing to gain. 

    I agree with the idea that if they can tolerate next season’s lux tax, they’ll keep RJ and amnesty him in 2012/13.

  • mac

    It’s plausible that the Spurs have no All-Stars going forward. (Sure Manu can play like an all-star, but can he do it throughout playoffs?… that is, can he stay HEALTHY in the playoffs, and rack up 16 wins even once more?) If you’re trying to assemble an elite, championship-contending squad, you could even say that this team is composed ENTIRELY of role-players.

    Let’s stick with the arguement that a shortened season benefits a geled, veteran team like SA. But when it comes to resigning Timmy, and related moves going forward, this group is getting farther and farther away from relevant. It may seem heretical, but trading 21 and 20 is the best thing for the club. If RC can stockpile first round picks, the Spurs have a chance to shorten the number of years spent in the lottery.

    The truth is everybody is worth trading. The Spurs’ best prospects are the unproven Anderson and Leonard, but 2s and 3s are the easiest talent to replace, whether through the Draft or through Free Agency. Until SA gets some legit young bigs, they are firmly in the worst position to be in: the middle of the pack. If Leonard shines in a shortened rookie year, do you ship him out for the rights to next years number 3 pick from the LA Clippers, Wizards, or Raptors? Yes. (Keep in mind what a team built around George Wallace achieved in the last decade. Or, Pierce’s legacy before KG arrived.)

    Trading HOFers 20 and 21 won’t get you back top picks, but since the draft is, to a certain extent, a game of chance, even additional mid- and late- rounders can give you the next Hill, Anderson, Leonard, Splitter types. If Timmy were traded for Kamen or for Haywood, one of those guys could be peddled to a lottery team like Detroit or at least a lower seed like Indy or Atlanta. If the Spurs wait to rebuild, with only one pick each year, the purgatory could be nearly as endless, and absolutely as boring, as hell.

    RJ has sadly become the least of the Spurs’ strategic concerns.

  • Tyler

    I agree the draft is the place to rebuild (we all know FA isn’t what’s going to drive the Spurs to their next title), but trading TD? First, RC or Holt wouldn’t even consider the option out of sheer loyalty. Second, trading TD for Kaman or Haywood? If that is indeed the best deal available, you hang up the phone – I’d rather have a 40 year old TD than Kaman and I wouldn’t touch Haywood. 

    I’m all for rebuilding, but the truth is, TD or Manu isn’t going anywhere. Looking at the Spurs’ cap situation, the earliest we could see anything resembling a rebuild would be after this season. For the 2012/13 season, we have about $46Mish on the books. This doesn’t include a resigned TD or a potentially amnestied RJ, both of which I consider likely.

    And in terms of trade value, IMO Splitter has more trade value than Anderson (and probably about equal to Leonard) simply due to the fact that big men trade at a premium. Splitter’s contract is also pretty cheap.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Why would you want to trade the second best big on the team to get another big?

  • mac

    The point was that Kamen and Haywood may have more value to a lottery team than TD or Manu, due to age.  It’s not about replacing our former All-Stars via trade, which isn’t gonna yield anything good. It’s about stockpiling picks, early picks if possible, trading franchise talent (while they still have some value) as a way to shorten the duration of the rebuilding process.  Letting Timmy go play somewhere else in not neccessarily disloyal at this point, if he gets input and lands in a more rewarding situation for his last 4 NBA years, with our blessing and eternal gratitude. We know he wants to (a) compete, (b) play alongside a true bigman, and (c) be in a warm climate.

  • mac

    Answer:  Everyone on the roster is tradable because none of them have much All-Star potential.  Until the Spurs get their next generation of All-Star talent, they are going nowhere. The lottery is where the Spurs will find their next franchise players… therefore trade for lottery picks (like Utah, and Cleveland, has done).

  • Tyler

    I’m not advocating trading Splitter, just pointing out that his trade value is higher than Anderson’s.

  • titletown99030507d

    Then I guess your going about the tanking route. Lose a couple seasons dirty so we can get our star players. I’m too old to wait for those kind of players. Ilike building on we we got right now. Maybe tank 1 season but that’s about it.

  • titletown99030507d

    You mean go to either Heat or Laker team? No way. Besides does he really have 4 years in him? I thought this year was it, if there was one. After this year he’s on empty. A great 10 minute man but he would demand too much for even 10 min of play.