Looking To Fill Holes? Don’t Expect Amnesty To Help

Darius Soriano —  November 28, 2011

Now that the handshake agreement is in place, the conversation shifts from fixing BRI and system issues to filling roster holes in the build up to the start of the season.

One of the ways the Lakers were expected to fill one of their needs was through the release of players through the “amnesty provision” that will be part of the new CBA. From the LA Times:

The Lakers are curious to see if veteran point guard Baron Davis gets cut by Cleveland. He has two years and $28.7 million left on his contract, though he can be signed for substantially less than that. The Lakers also want a shooter and are monitoring whether forward Rashard Lewis (two years, $43.8 million remaining) gets waived by Washington.

Sounds good, right? The Lakers (or other teams willing to spend) would be able to pick up jettisoned players for a pittance of their former salaries and give them a chance to win a championship.

Not so fast, though. When reading the fine print of the leaked proposal, we learn more about the amnesty clause and how the fate of players released will be decided:

A modified waiver process will be utilized for players waived pursuant to the Amnesty rule, under which teams with Room under the Cap can submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player’s remaining contract. If a player’s contract is claimed in this manner, the remaining portion of the players’ salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.

Said another way, teams under the cap will have first dibs on players released via the amnesty clause. Furthermore, teams that claim these players will do so by placing a bid – sort of like a blind auction – on a portion of that player’s contract with the team placing the highest bid being awarded the player.

Since the Lakers are over the cap, they would not be able to place a bid on any amnestied player and would need for every team under the cap to avoid placing a bid on a player of interest before that player hit the open market for any team to sign.

The likelihood of a player like Rashard Lewis or Baron Davis or Brandon Roy (all three players play a position or provide a skill set the Lakers could use to improve their roster) not having their contract(s) bid on are extremely low. Understand that teams under the cap can place any bid they want on these players. If the Hornets, for example, would like a stretch PF to play with Chris Paul, they could place a $5 million/year bid on Lewis and if no team bid higher than that, he’d be awarded to New Orleans. If the Kings want a PG to play next to Tyreke Evans and think Baron Davis fits the bill, they could place a $3 million/year bid on him and if no team bid higher, BD would be shipped to Cali’s state capital.

This process alone makes it so the Lakers are not likely to get their hands on a player of impact that could fortify their depth or offer relief to a particularly weak position on the roster. But, when added to the report that many teams won’t even use the amnesty provision this season, the odds go down even further. From Howard Beck of the New York Times:

There is, however, one minor caveat for the amnesty watchers and World Peace enthusiasts: most teams will not use the provision. “I don’t think there will be very many at all,” said one team executive, who asked to remain anonymous while the lockout remains in effect. At most, three to six teams will take advantage of the amnesty clause this year, the executive said — a view that was echoed by others around the league. The reasons are varied and complicated. Some teams are so far above the cap that removing one player will not provide room to sign free agents. A few teams have such low payrolls that they would dip below the minimum-payroll requirements. At least 10 teams have no obvious candidates for amnesty. And many teams might simply hold onto their amnesty card for a future year. According to a draft of the rule, a team can use the provision in any off-season, subject to two restrictions: the player must have been signed before July 1, 2011, and must be on the team’s current roster. In other words, a team cannot sign or trade for a player now and apply for amnesty later. The provision is meant for past mistakes, not future cap calamities.

So, even if the rules did favor the Lakers, they may find a market bare of viable prospects anyway.

Ultimately, there are still more details to come out that could affect how the amnesty provision is used. And, even more questions about if players who are released have any rights of refusal about going to the teams that pick them up. However, at this point, the safe bet is that players whose contracts are picked up will report to their new teams without a peep. After all, their contracts bind them to a team and unless they’re willing to sit out a season (or more) while also forfeiting massive amounts of money (most amnestied players are likely signed to deals above the current mid-level amount) I don’t see how they block any transactions. Remember, one of the main fallouts of this new CBA is that players have lost power and leverage in relation to their old agreement, not gained.

In any event, as much as we’d all like for the Lakers to find their shiny new toy via the amnesty provision, don’t expect. The way the rule is written just doesn’t favor them to do so.

Darius Soriano

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to Looking To Fill Holes? Don’t Expect Amnesty To Help

  1. Since the Laker’s have 4 PG possibilities – Fish, Blake, Morris, T. Johnson – on their current roster, I really doubt we get another guard unless we trade for one.

    The position I think the Lakers would like to fill first is backup center. However, I see a worse situation than last year, when we picked up Ratliff, and I think we keep Derrick Caracter for that reason.


  2. Good post, and a key thing to for Laker fans to know. As I posted about two minutes ago at Land O Lakers, quoting Larry Coon:

    “Teams with cap room can benefit greatly from the amnesty provision by being able to submit a competing offer to claim an amnestied player at a reduced rate. For example, if Cleveland uses its amnesty provision on Baron Davis, a team that is $5 million below the salary cap can submit a $5 million offer to acquire Davis’ contract. If that offer is the highest, the team acquires Davis and is responsible for $5 million of his salary — with Cleveland responsible for the balance. This happens before Davis becomes a free agent and can sign on his own with a team like Miami.”


    I think this is important, because:

    a) I think Davis will get cut
    b) I think if he could pick a team, he would pick the Lakers, and I think Brown and Buss (and Kobe) would want him.
    c) I do not see Blake–and certainly not Fisher–being able to fullfill more “traditional” PG functions. whereas Davis, perhaps, could.


  3. The options at backup center include:

    Aaron Gray
    Jeff Foster
    Tony Battie
    Melvin Ely
    DJ Mbenga

    I think Foster and Gray will have better options than coming here. My guess is that it will be Battie or Ely.


  4. Also, Trey Johnson is in Italy, IIRC.

    I expect that Fisher will start Opening Night, but that Blake will play 30 minutes a game.


  5. Anyone else surprisingly not excited about the end of the lockout?

    I want a season, like all fans, but my natural reaction to the news has been, “Meh.” Maybe because there’s still so much uncertainty? Maybe because the new rules seem to screw the Lakers and other “rich” franchises? I can’t put a finger on it, but I’m just not geeked up yet.


  6. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m beginning to think of Derek Fisher in uniform again, as opposed to in a suit somewhere….

    That’s got to be a part of it — the Lakers have the same lousy point guards as last spring.


  7. I wonder how much training/exercise Fisher was able to get in this summer. He’s typically in top notch shape (relatively speaking for his age group..ha), but there were a lot of marathon sessions this summer.

    The new CBA reality is sobering. The core (Kobe, Odom, Gasol, and Bynum) may have already played its last game as far as we know since the Lakers will probably have to make aggressive trades to get Howard or Paul. Further, I cannot forsee the team keeping Bynum or Gasol after this season since they would take up a large chunk of the already taken salary cap. Sobering…


  8. weaksauce (last thread) – Sorry, I was reading the comments fast and mixed up your comment with someone else’s.

    This amnesty clause sucks (for us). Surprised it went through, with the union clamoring for player control. Amnestied players will be bidded on like property and forced to go to whatever team bids the highest, with no say in the matter. I guess I should just think of it exactly like a 1-way trade, instead of like a buyout (which is what I expected).

    Although he’s older and lost some effectiveness, I’d love to see Jeff Foster in the purple and gold. I agree in that I think he’ll get better offers though.


  9. i feel like there’s a chance cleveland will waive baron. the problem is they need to rebuild through the draft because of their market size, meaning picks are more valuable than cap space. if cleveland uses their trade exception to finagle quality draft picks, baron is as good as ours–the teams with capspace out there do not really need another pg.

    i believe jerry buss is committed to using the awesome hand he’s been dealt(kobe, pau, drew, lamar) to outpace the celtics. not only do i expect the roster to remain intact until the kobe/pau contracts expire in 3 yrs, i expect buss to use the mini-mid, the bae, and the vujacic trade exception to accumulate more championships.

    prediction: this team is going to be re-constructed and managed like a european team, with a stout 10+ man rotation. our team is going to be loaded and rested come play-off time.


  10. 8. [snoopy] isn’t it ironic with all the amnestied players (at the least the “better” ones like BDavis, Rashard, etc.), they will have literally no to very limited choices about where they will play? This especially in light of the poorly worded phrase from Jeffrey Kessler and Bryant Gumbel that players were treated like they were on a plantation. Now, thanks to this new deal, they lose an important freedom that players have: freedom of movement (though they will still be paid their $$$ from the overpriced contract).

    Wonder if players like BDavis will start laying the groundwork for a “hell no I won’t play in Minnesota or Indiana” campaign.


  11. @1 – much agree. We desperately need veteran bigs. Or bigs, period.

    I’m not thinking about anything other than minimum deals at this point. We need some players on the cheap who can fill utility and/or specific roles. I.e. post bangers and someone who can let it fly from long range.

    Re: the latter – anyone interested in Steve Novak? He can shoot.


  12. Amnesty is not something that will give players additional freedom, as it did in the last CBA. However, it also does not lengthen that player’s contract. What it does is allow a team, other than the one he signed the contract with, to enjoy his services – sort of like a trade.

    I do see how this restricts the few players who are granted amnesty, but – really – not much has changed.


  13. ARe the lakers gonna do the amnesty thing on Luke Walton (and a few other overpaid players)? Seems like it’ll be hard to fill the empty roster spots if we did that to any other player (e.g. Metta World Peace), but since Luke didn’t do anything anyway, it doesn’t seem to matter.


  14. Wow. Sounds like we are stuck with the same contracts as last year. I just don’t see anyone picking up a big chunk of the paycheck for any player we have on the roster, outside of Odom, Bynum and Gasol – none of which we want to give up.

    I know a lot of us have our sights (and heart) set on getting D Howard here, but I just don’t see how we do that AND build a championship caliber team while (1) keeping Pau and/or Odom, and (2) pay Kobe’s remaining contract. I am also worried about Drew’s basketball fitness this offseason. I know he’s been working out with a trainer in the off season, but I don’t know how “hard” he’s been working out given that he has shown a lack of maturity at times.

    At any rate, it’s nice to be back to worrying about free agents and championships again. Hip, hip, hooray!


  15. Slightly OT, but does anyone know when the schedule will be released?

    Back on topic, @14: given that the restrictions on maxed out teams engaging in Sign and Trades don’t kick in for a couple of years, I think a Howard trade could happen if, behind the scenes, he is playing the Melo hand and demanding the Lakers and only the Lakers. DH12 for LO and AB makes sense for both squads, in my opinion, especially if ORL could sweeten the deal from their side by making the Lakers eat a bad contract as part of the deal.

    In less than a month, we could be 2-0!!


  16. Doesn’t sound like we’ll have a shot at many of the high-caliber waived players. I know no one throughout the league will particularly shed a tear for the Big Bad Lakers inability to get stronger. I wonder if Shannon Brown has been working on his penetration to the hole or whether Steve Blake has made his shooting more efficient. Those would seem to be keys if we can’t get one of those top players.


  17. I do suspect the more capable front offices will still find a way to win, new CBA be damned.

    It remains to be seen if the Lakers still fit this category, as Jerry Buss fades away and son Jim takes over. (Not to mention PJ handing off the coaching baton.)

    Jimmy Buss seems to be as dumb as a rock, from what I’ve been able to acertain.

    Let’s hope for the best!


  18. It would be interesting, but most often the best move is making no move at all, and I think we may fall under this category since our options are fairly limited.

    I don’t see a premier agent falling into our laps, nor do I think that’s the best way. Although it certainly is not difficult to upgrade our PG spot, we’re dealing with so many changes this season as is, starting with a new head coach. So while it’s a good time to start over, it could also be wise to at least have some continuity of chemistry while players adjust to the system.


  19. @ MannyP — I’ve run into Bynum in Las Vegas twice this off-season, both times at boxing matches we each happened to attend. He was in street clothes, but you could tell he was in great shape — the muscle tone was evident and his waist was very thin.

    Having seen that twice, yet seperated over the span of two months, I’m not worried that Drew wasted the lockout months eating Twinkies and writing “I’m sorry” notes to JJ Berea. My guess is he’s primed for a big season.


  20. Rusty Shackleford November 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Chris J – (edited for profanity) With all of the publicity that’s been involved and both sides knowing that pulling the rug out from under the fans would be a unforgivable gut-punch to them; I don’t see how they would make an announcement on record without being damned sure it is straightened out.

    Being the way the current amnestisy clause is written it doesn’t benefit the Lakers; nor do I see ownership willing to spend even more money signing a free agent. That said, I still believe this current roster is a contender and make a ligimate run with some luck. Maybe some of the San Antonio JuJu will come to the Lakers. They just ran into the hottest team in the league last year and couldn’t pull their shit together. That elimination didn’t putt them out of being a contender. Adding a better point guard will make things easier though.

    Also (last comment regarding the lockout this decade) now that the deal is in place it makes me realize that the owners (this day in age) always win in these negotiations. Do you think the accomplishments as an active NBPA member are taken into account when considering HOF membership? That way maybe Derek Fisher may being the first to be inducted for being the Union Rep President to take a highly publicized ‘bad deal’.


  21. Having read the SSR breakdown of teams with cap room, I am inclined to agree with the poster who said that Davis will land here if he is cut. The hard truth is that really, other than the Lakers and maybe Miami, no team really needs Davis. But the Lakers, as an old team trying to win one more time and having a major hole at PG, could use him.

    One twist to the Lakers’ PG situation is that both the Lakers and Jordan Farmar would be better off today if Farmar were still here and Blake weren’t. Blake was supposed to be Fisher’s successor, and it is easy to see the plan they had: the Lakers either win it again or lose to Miami in the Finals, Phil rides off into the Montana sunset, Shaw takes over as coach, keeps the Triangle, and Blake takes over as the caretaker/spot-up PG with a contract that parallels Kobe’s and Pau’s. Farmar goes to a lottery team running a drive/kick system and gets to play.

    Instead, of course, the Lakers got swept in the second round, the Triangle is gone, and the lottery team Farmar picked to sign with traded for Deron Williams, leaving Farmar needing to play in Israel to get a chance to shine.


  22. Just a couple things – notwithstanding the need for more bodies, I fully expect much more from Blake this year. Last season he had to assimilate the triangle and even though he praised Jackson and the experience, he never really gained traction in the system. I think we’re going to see a sharp improvement this season. Second – Goudelock can flat out shoot the ball and there might be an opportunity for some effective spot minutes.


  23. Not sure what Rusty was trying to write at me; the editing lost any and all context to anything I had written…


  24. Good, Bynum is healthy, that’s great news for Orlando, in case Dwight needs to change address. The other three players that need to be healthy Odom, Artest and Fisher. Fisher is a filler and the other two are trade baits for CP3 or D’Will. If two of those three chooses to join Kobe + Pau last few years, then another dynasty is in the horizon. This type of players can turn on the teams’ auto-pilot whether Mike Brown et al are good coaches or just a so-so. or if they hired some nuisance assistant coaches. Kobe has to be excited to win again rather than carrying the team with too many shots or listening to coaches who have not proven anything. Goudelock and Morris may be up and coming PG’s but they’re rookies. Rookies make gargantuan mistakes on their first year in NBA, they’re there to be fillers and attuned with players playing style. Fisher and Blake got older by two more months with the lockout, they’re like the MS Windows 95, good ten years ago but quite obsolete today with the new generation of PG’s.


  25. @ dave m

    I agree about Goudelock, and based on what I know, I think it would be better for everybody if Darius Morris started in the DLeague and Goudelock made the team. Morris is three years younger than Goudelock is, has more of a future, and needs reps and minutes.

    Goudelock OTOH is a low-ceiling guy who has a specific skill the team really needs.

    But all indicators say that Morris will make the 12-man and Goudelock won’t. Looking at the 12-man:


    That is 11 guys. I am assuming that Walton, amnestyd or not, will not make the 12-man. Based on what I know about him, I think I would make Goudelock the 12th. We’ll see.


  26. Any truth that tbe amnesty rule was originally called the Walton rule? Got to dump that contract. Can only hope that one of the two rookies can play guard. Another season of watching Fisher getting burned is as bad as watching Fisher getting burned this off season.

    The good news is the Lakers are back and therefore so am I!


  27. #25. I’d bet both rookies make the team. I’m also of the mind that Caracter isn’t a guarantee and that Brown likely will not be back and that Barnes/Ebanks may end up playing more SG this season in an offense that likely won’t require its guards to be as well rounded (in the Triangle guards needed to handle/initiate/shoot/cut). I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Goudelock play some SG (if he can earn minutes at all) while being hidden on D on a non-threatening offensive player.

    If I was putting together a roster *today*, it would look like this:

    Fisher, Blake, Morris
    Kobe, Ebanks, Goudelock
    MWP, Barnes, Walton
    Gasol, Odom
    Bynum, FA Big

    That is 13 players and a 10 man rotation when you add in the 4th big man (not yet on the roster). If the Lakers pick up an amnestied player, it could be a PG (Davis could shake loose as was mentioned in the comments) or even another big man, which would bring the roster to 14. If Luke retires or is amnestied that gives the Lakers one more spot to play with but that guy will likely be a vet minimum guy (or, to be fair, it could be Caracter).

    In the end, I see the Lakers carrying 14 players to give them flexibility in any trade or if they need to pick up a player due to injury and they don’t want to waive anyone.


  28. *Not too excited about our chances at landing either Dwight or Paul or Dwill much less two out of the three.

    *MWP, I wonder if Ron intended it to look like MVP. I hope he delivers this year.

    *Dwight, in my mind, is a minor upgrade if Bynum stays healthy. Big if, I know, but I still think having a ball handling guard would be a much bigger upgrade.

    *Our roster as is can contend, but I think that’s it. Unless Pau makes the jump from All Star to Superstar, I don’t see much room for internal growth while I can easily see other teams improve and mature. Still, a healthy Bynum and a focused Pau would be more than enough.

    *Kobe’s knees, fingers and back are all concerns. I hope he worked on his 3 this summer (and fall) among other things…


  29. Is Kwame “Stone Hands” Brown available? If so, put me down for:

    Stone Hands-C


  30. @29 – Kwame’s available but I think he’ll get more than minimum someplace. He had a decent season (above his average anyway) in Charlotte.


  31. Important to get Walton off,and a decent new C-PF on the roster. Don`t see Baron as that great a pickup and a long shot anyway. This team has more ?? including the coaching staff than any team in over a decade,which also makes it the most interesting.


  32. I believe that Mitch did a terrific job of having a mostly signed team in place before the lockout. Looking at Laker players listed in the NBA trading machine, here’s who we should expect to see at the gym on Dec. 9 (or 10). We may see all those listed minus Smith, Ratliff, Brown and Johnson: that’s at least 13 players in the gym.

    The decision on Shanwow will happen fast, as will the backup big. Luke’s retirement/amnesty may happen slower–but he may not even show up on that first day.

    The team will have an orderly 2 weeks of nearly full roster practice to become Brown’s Lakers.

    The Lakers probably will be more ready than the Bulls they will face on Christmas, even though the full Laker roster will probably not be completely determined until mid January.

    With so many new and strange possibilities happening so fast for so many teams, it is impossible to do little more than let our speculations go wild.

    What will be, will be.


  33. I have had to soak with these matters over the last couple of months, as BRI and CBA acronyms took over for awhile, now I’m back to my drawing table. In my extensive research and trying to understand each teams’ position in all this, I have come up with several conclusions that will guide the Laker faithful’s mindset moving forward.

    I always put myself a 10-15% variance in estimates because things like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul becoming available may force our hands. But in general and I may get a little specific at parts, this is going to me OUR mantra:

    1. The Lakers need to seek trades in order to Win. I am not saying senseless, doesn’t necessarily mean Dwight or CP3 either.

    2. There is no such thing as 2012 cap space for us. With Kobe and Pau occupying approx 47M in payroll, you cannot afford it even if you pawned off everyone else on your team.

    3. This is not the time to think about savings. But we can effectively lower our payroll with wise deals (and I have the perfect Ideas).

    4. By the looks of it, Luke Walton is a certainty to be waived. Paying him 12M over next 2 ssns will still be done, but it is the tax implication that benefits us. If for some reason a medical retirement is allowed, the Lakers may hold off on waiving Walton and giving such waiver to Steve Blake instead. Or Metta World Peace. Argue here.

    I will be posting a more detailed proposition in these series of moves that I recommend we do, so it will be on the next post and I hope Darius allows the slightly speculative nature of the matter.


  34. 28. [Harold] I have to respectfully disagree about Howard being a ‘minor upgrade’ IF Bynum is healthy. Howard rarely misses games, can play major minutes, absolutely gobbles rebounds, can finish lobs and have putbacks, and is a menace on defense. Bynum has a more “refined” inside game, but due to his injury history, Howard is a major upgrade. However, it would take at least Bynum and Odom, which I would do, but would definitely dilute our bench.

    I think Nate Jones was tweeting that it’s not about a specific “position” for the Lakers, but rather an opportunity to find a once-in-a-generation type of player to succeed Kobe down the road. Howard is that type of player, with the opportunity cost being the inability to pursue a top flight PG. Tough times ahead for the front offices of Orlando and New Orleans. At least for the Lakers, the “worst” case scenario is retaining the awesome core of Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. For the aforementioned FOs, they may lose Paul, Howard, for nothing if they don’t move them!


  35. DY,
    When he is playing, Bynum is not that far from Howard – and he is not only cheaper, but will be cheaper in the future. Don’t discount that.

    I do agree that we need a dominant big to follow Kobe. Winning teams almost always have a dominant big – and that includes Dallas last year. We love to talk PG, but it is down low that championships are won. MJ was an anomaly because there weren’t many truly good teams in the 90’s and defensive thuggery was allowed.


  36. I’m looking at Howard from not just his on-court performance, but the fact that he is the type of marquee player in the line of Wilt, Magic, Kobe, Shaq, that helps add to the Lakers mystique post-Kobe. Howard is a marketing gem, and is only 25 years old right now.

    I understand he makes $5-6 mm more than Bynum a year, but Bynum will be no more than a 27-30 mpg player, who has averaged 55 games per year. Crudely calculated, Bynum costs $280k per game he plays. Howard is $213k per game he played last year.

    I know that’s not the best metric, but it goes to show Bynum has traditionally cost more $ per game due to his health. Further, with Bynum, the team will need to pick up a frontcourt reserve who is capable of starting 20-30 games a year, which is a major cost that needs to be factored into Bynum’s total package. Imagine the Lakers without Odom. Who would have played PF when Bynum was out for almost 30 games this year?

    The FO has a tough decision about whether to extend Bynum, b/c he will undoubtedly ask for the $13-15mm per year range.


  37. the current roster is done winning championships. and the current salary situation doesn’t leave any room for significant upgrades (without shipping out one of the valuable pieces; which is a zero sum option).

    until the lakers do a full rebuild of the roster, there will be no more championships. 4 great guys and nobody else won’t get it done in this league, and that’s a fact. they are not a balanced team and won’t be with all those top heavy contracts.


  38. Rusty Shackleford November 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

    A nice item to add to the next CBA would be salary relief for season-ending injuries. If Bynum goes down for the season the Lakers get no salary relief and still have to pay his luxury penalty as well. At least, this is the way I understand it. I know the FA market is thin but it would be nice to be able to place an injured player on an ‘inactive for season’ list and get salary relief allowing contenders and noncontenders to sign FA’s without being further penalized by the luxury tax.


  39. I think Kobe has one more ring in him left. In fact, this might be the year he has to do it. What are the best transactions to make it happen THIS year? Odom / Gasol / Bynum / Kobe is a great foundation. Maybe not for the future due to age, but with Kobe’s window shortening, there isn’t a better front line in the league. If MWP had his head on straight, the team would be a lock to come out of the West. Do we trade one of the bigs for a Dwill-caliber PG or keep the front line and find a serviceable PG? I’m still pulling for a Ramon Sessions trade.


  40. @KT, I too,like Ramon Sessions as a serviceable PG! With hard work he could be the second coming of a better Derek Fisher. One problem though, he has never played in a big market. I believe the klieg lights in L.A makes players disappear in the spotlight (see Steve Blake).


  41. It should be obvious to everyone that the point of the CBA wrangling had little to do with greedy players and money losing owners. The owners wanted a system that damaged the big markets, and they had their sights set squarely on the Lakers and Heat. They came VERY close to making some rules that would have forced the Heat to drop their better role players and the Lakers are completely hamstrung unless the Buss family is willing to increase their donation to the other owners from the current $20ish million to $60 or $80 million.

    The owners original offers were to break up the Heat entirely, but they were prepared to give that back in exchange for making sure it could never happen again (or so they think… the more they tighten their grip and dictate what the best players will make, wear, eat, and for how long, the less there is to actually mull over other than WHERE to play and WHO to join up with, so it actually will completely backfire).

    The best gameplan for a struggling team right now is to cut everyone to prepare for a big free agent summer (there will be MORE of them with shorter contracts) and build your team up from scratch. Riley pulled it off (with some tampering of course… you don’t think Wade told him they had it all worked out in Beijing?). Using three nearly max contracts, and the rest as exceptions, the Heat went to the NBA Finals in ONE YEAR. That is the blueprint for success.

    This is just observing what’s taken place. And honestly, it makes sense. Some of the other owners look at the Lakers, Celtics, and now Mavs and think: “Championships make you money… that’s the secret.” So they want championships as cheap as they can get them and to prevent these same teams from signing free agents to get them.

    Other owners, like Donald Sterling, just want to play in a great market, in a cash register of a building, and get revenue sharing checks without spending ALL THAT MONEY to just be second fiddle in town. I mean, you can be second fiddle by being young and exciting and drafting the next can’t-miss superstar every five years or so. It works, it has worked, and Sterling appreciates the extra dough from the Buss family every summer.