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The amnesty clause and the Knicks

11/28/2011

The amnesty clause would have been Knicks owner James Dolan's dream come true a couple years ago.

Just think: he could have taken one of Isiah Thomas' big-name acquisitions and wiped him off the books.

Eddy Curry? Jared Jeffries? Jerome James?

One of those guys would've been no-brainers to be waived in, say, 2008. Unfortunately for Dolan, there was no amnesty available back then.

But what about the Knicks current roster?

Who will the team choose to ax with its amnesty clause -- which allows teams to waive a player and subtract his salary from the cap total -- if it's used at all this season?

Let's take a look at who could get the hook if the clause makes it into the ratified collective bargaining agreement:

Renaldo Balkman: As ESPN's Chad Ford and Marc Stein point out, Balkman is the most likely candidate to be clipped if the Knicks use the clause this season.

Balkman played just 11 minutes in 32 games with the Knicks last season after coming over in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Heck, he played only 60 minutes in total last year. He is due to make $1.675 million this season and $1.675 in 2012-2013. While Balkman is an effective rebounder, he struggles in the half-court offense and is unlikely to develop into more than an end-of-bench piece for the Knicks. Look for him to be dropped if the amnesty clause comes to fruition.

Ronny Turiaf: Turiaf plays with plenty of energy. But, too often, he's an offensive liability. He's also undersized at center and injury-prone. Couple that with the fact that he's on the books for $4.3 million next season via a player option, and Turiaf looks like a legitimate amnesty candidate.

But his contract will come off the books at the end of the year, so it seems that Balkman -- and his two-year deal -- is a more attractive amnesty option. Plus, the Knicks are desperate for size under the basket. And while Turiaf isn't the answer to that problem, he can at least be a part of the solution.

Bill Walker: Walker is set to make a little over $900,000 this year, the last on his current contract. He's a lights-out long-range shooter (he's hit 40% of his 3-point attempts in two years as a Knick) and can finish around the basket. And while Walker struggles defensively, he's probably the least likely among the three candidates mentioned here to be clipped. After all, the Knicks can use perimeter shooters. And Walker's contract is off the books at the end of the season.

Save it for later: One thing to remember when thinking about the amnesty clause: According to reports, teams will be permitted to use the amnesty clause one time over the entire life of the CBA (a 10-year deal with opt-outs after year six). So the Knicks may want to hang onto their amnesty option for a future date.

Question: Who would you use the amnesty clause on? Would you wait to use it at a later date?

Let us know in the comments section below.

* - Side note on the amnesty clause: The 2005 CBA also contained an amnesty clause that allowed teams to waive a player. The player's salary counted against the cap but did not count toward the luxury tax.

The clause was dubbed "The Allan Houston Rule" because it was widely assumed that the Knicks would use it to waive the chronically-injured and well-compensated shooting guard. But they instead cut Jerome Williams.