Amnesty clause to get two-year window?


If you believe the reporters camped out in New York City, the end of the lockout is near. Details and proposals have been leaking out, and one proposal as the San Antonio Spurs name attached directly to it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Spurs’ owner Peter Holt wanted more flexibility in the much talked about amnesty rule.

“Sources say that there’s a determined push led by San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt to allow teams to have at least two years to decide whether or not to amnesty one player, with multiple sources telling this week that they believe the concept — with restrictions that are still being haggled over — has indeed won sufficient support to be included in the new labor deal.”

Stein goes on to say their is still discussion over what this will look like specifically. Some owners want to restrict the amnesty to only be used on players on the team’s current roster when the lockout ends. Others want to be able to use it on any player they acquire in the next 3-5 seasons.

That last part seems unrealistic. I can’t imagine the player’s union being OK with a group of players’ contracts just getting axed at any point in time over the next 5 years without any consequences. However, I can see them willing to wait a couple of seasons on amnesty for guys on their current teams. Remember, it’s all about compromise at this point.

I don’t know about the other owners in the room, but from Peter Holt’s point of view this means that Richard Jefferson is going to be a Spur for this season. Here’s why:

-Shortened training camp means teams have less time to adjust to a new player or new system. The more cohesive the unit, the better shape your team is going to be in coming out of the bat. Jefferson is more used to the Spurs’ system at this point then any other forward on the current roster or anyone they could bring in.

-If the Spurs wait a year to cut Jefferson, that means they’ll have his $10 million dollars, plus Tim Duncan’s $22 million PLUS Antonio McDyess $3-$5 million coming off the books. They’re currently somewhere around $17 million over the cap, meaning they’ll probably have somewhere in the ball park of $15 million dollars in cap space if they wait a season to waive Jefferson.

-There’s a decent chance Peter Holt really doesn’t want to pay Jefferson the $30 million remaining on his contract to not play for the San Antonio Spurs. Despite his passivity in the second half of the season, Jefferson was better in the Spurs’ system last year than he was the year before, so the few Jefferson optimists left would think he may make some improvements in year 3 (OK, there’s only one Jefferson optimist left and that’s me).

This anmesty clause is good thing for the Spurs no matter what. Whether they use it this fall or next summer, it’s pretty clear Jefferson’s days as a Spur are numbered, but something tells me he has at least 82 games left in a Spurs uniform.