Top choices among amnesty candidates
5-on-5: When NBA teams cut their dead weight, here's who rival clubs should be eyeing
The amnesty-clause cuts are a-comin' ... again.
But unlike in 2005, when the initial one-time exception provided only luxury-tax relief, the likely forthcoming provision will include both tax and salary-cap breaks. Which means that more big-name ballers are likely to hit the cutting-room floor once the NBA is back in session.
Of the group of guys Marc Stein and Chad Ford pinpointed as the most likely to be waived, who will be the most enticing on the open market? That's the task we put our panel up to for this edition of 5-on-5.
1. Who is the fifth-most desirable "likely" amnesty cut?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Mehmet Okur. On the wrong side of 30 and a couple of years removed from being a productive player, Okur is at a crossroads in his career. Although injuries limited him to 13 games last season, there's still the question of how effective he can be if fully healthy. But he's worth a chance, especially as a fourth big man.
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Brandon Roy. You gamble here on talent and pride winning out over physical degradation. It's a fool's wager over the long term, but maybe there's a short, strong stretch left in Roy's knees. Still, I'm not sure what's more depressing -- that Roy's on this list at all or that I'm stretching to put him this high up.
Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Baron Davis. Will he get in shape? Always the biggest question for B. Diddy. If he's committed to keeping the weight off, a team should roll the dice on him, even ahead of Brandon Roy. I've always been a huge fan of Roy, but I just don't think his knees will hold up.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Gilbert Arenas. No contract may have done more to encourage the inclusion of an amnesty clause than Arenas' contract with Washington (now Orlando). But post-amnesty, if Gil is willing to sign for a role player's price, his talent is worth the gamble.
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Baron Davis. As always, the question any GM who signs Beardy has to ask himself is whether Baron will want to be there. If you have a strong club likely to go far (hint, Miami), he is your man. If you have a rebuilding team trying to improve (hint, Utah), his affinity for apathy could do more harm than good.
2. Who is the fourth-most desirable "likely" amnesty cut?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Marvin Williams. Even though he's only 25 years old, Williams' productivity has regressed over the past two seasons. He's been the odd man out in Atlanta, as he's seen Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford eat away his minutes. But with loads of potential coming out of college, he might just need a change of scenery (just hope for the opposite of the Jeff Green effect).
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Richard Jefferson. On a team with good ball movement, one that can get him the ball in his spots, Jefferson can still make shots (he hit 47 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3s last season). But he's on a four-year productivity slide, so make it a one-year deal.
Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Al Harrington. Harrington is still averaging about 11 points and five rebounds a game. If he stays healthy, he's got a couple of solid years left.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Richard Jefferson. Jefferson has underachieved during his time in San Antonio, but he still has a lot to offer. If the Spurs let him go, any team in need of a strong wing who consistently attacks the rim and can help on the boards should look to sign him.
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Beno Udrih. What team in the NBA doesn't need someone who can arguably be the best backup point guard in the league? He will not bolster a defense, but he can run an offense, execute the pick-and-roll, hit open jumpers, get to the hoop, drive and kick and even have the occasional scoring outburst. He is the perfect second-unit general.
3. Who is the third-most desirable "likely" amnesty cut?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Beno Udrih. At 29 years old, Udrih had a career season in Sacramento, posting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and field goal percentage. Is he a full-time starter in the league? Probably not. Can he be a very good backup for a playoff team? Yes.
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Mike Miller. Here's a safe bet: Miller -- a year removed from multiple injuries -- will rebound to be the player the Heat thought they were getting last season. It's entirely possible that Miami will cut him loose, only to see him sign with another contender and knock down big shots and grab key boards against them in the playoffs.
Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Mike Miller. He got hurt last season and never made much of an impact with the Heat. Still, he's 31 years old, and there will be plenty of teams lined up to get him if he hits the market again.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Brandon Roy. Yes, his knees are steadily deteriorating. But given how high his ceiling was once considered to be, were he to sign for a more reasonable amount and show any flashes of his former brilliance, it'd be worth it. He would be an excellent sixth man.
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Richard Jefferson. Gregg Popovich has humbled RJ back into knowing he is nothing more than a role player. His game still disappoints, given the promise young Jefferson showed next to Jason Kidd in New Jersey, but there aren't many holes in his game. He will not turn the tide of a franchise, but he could be a nice finishing piece for a title contender.
4. Who is the second-most desirable "likely" amnesty cut?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Richard Jefferson. If the amnesty clause was based purely on skill, Jefferson would not be a candidate. While his across-the-board production has dropped off significantly in San Antonio (including his once-respectable playmaking skills), Jefferson still shot 44 percent from beyond the arc last season and posted a ridiculous 61.2 true shooting percentage.
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Mehmet Okur. Another comeback candidate trying to prove he's not cooked. Okur brings legitimate size and shooting from the 5-spot, so he'll get his chance.
Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Richard Jefferson. He can still shoot and made almost half his shots from the field last season. He'll find a way to be a contributor on a winning team in 2011-12.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Baron Davis. Davis has never returned to the dazzling heights he achieved while with Golden State, but a few contenders -- Miami, in particular -- are in dire need of a point guard, and no distributor will come at a better cost than Davis. He could still flourish if coupled with the right superstars.
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Brandon Roy. There are few better weapons to have in your back pocket than an All-NBA talent who may not be able to get it done every night but can occasionally show the world why he is still great. Mobility will be an issue, but Brandon is the type of leader, mentor, scorer, distributor, clutch performer and fearless teammate every coach wants.
5. Who is the most desirable "likely" amnesty cut?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Brandon Roy. Despite being one of the clear-cut amnesty-clause candidates, Roy still has something left in the tank at 27 years old. If his Game 4 performance against Dallas in this year's first round was any indication, he still can take over a game in spurts and serve as a viable sixth man. The question, of course, is: Will his deteriorating knees hold up?
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Baron Davis. With any luck, being on the business end of an amnestying will focus the mercurial Davis. With even better luck, he'll land on a team with a strong culture and no tolerance for any shenanigans. With pot-of-gold luck, that team could see a long stretch of Baron at his best. Nobody else on this list has that kind of upside
Nick Friedell, ESPN Chicago: Marvin Williams. Has he lived up to the expectations he had coming out of the draft? No. But he's still just 25 and has more time to get better. This list is full of guys who are past their respective primes. Williams may not have hit his ... whatever that may be.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Rashard Lewis. For the last few years Lewis has been one of the most overpaid players in the NBA, but of the guys on this list, he's the most certain to play at a reasonably high level. He was, and -- if signed to a more appropriate contract -- could still be an excellent fourth option on a contending team.
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Rashard Lewis. Say what you will about Shard's current contract, but there aren't 10 better shooters alive. Even if all you do is stick Lewis in the corner to stick 3s, he will be worth it. Whatever team is able to land him will win at least one playoff game based upon a Rashard dagger.