Amnesty Provision Refresher

In the wake of Kobe Bryant's Achilles injury, the amnesty provision has dominated Bryant-related discussion, with various writers and fans speculating that perhaps the Lakers could amnesty Kobe this summer. While that's a real long shot, the amnesty clause has been in enough headlines that it's worth revisiting how exactly it works, which teams still have the opportunity to use it, and which players might be amnesty candidates….

How does it work?

The amnesty provision provides a team an opportunity to clear a bad contract from its books for salary cap and luxury tax purposes. Although a team still has to pay the remainder of the amnestied player's salary, as it would for any released player, the player's salary no longer counts against the team's cap (except for minimum payroll purposes) when the amnesty clause is used. So in the unlikely event that the Lakers amnestied Bryant, the team would still have to pay him his $30MM+ salary for 2013/14, but would remove that figure from its cap, significantly reducing its tax bill.

The amnesty provision can be used on any player, as long as the following rules are observed:

  • A team can only amnesty one player — not one player per season.
  • The amnesty provision can only be used on a player who signed his contract prior to July 1st, 2011. If a contract was signed, extended, or renegotiated after that date, the player cannot be amnestied.
  • A team can only use its amnesty provision on a player who was on its roster on July 1st, 2011. If a player was traded after that date, he cannot be amnestied.
  • The amnesty clause can only be used during the seven days following the July moratorium. If a team doesn't amnesty a player during that week, it won't get another chance to do so until the following July. This year's amnesty period is set to begin on July 10th.
  • A team that has yet to use its amnesty clause can do so in any of the next three years. The 2015/16 season is the last year that a player can be amnestied under the current CBA.

Amnestied players are placed on waivers, but the waiver rules are slightly different than usual. An under-the-cap team can still place a full waiver claim on an amnestied player, if it doesn't mind being on the hook for the rest of the player's contract. However, clubs also have the option to submit partial waiver claims, in what essentially amounts to an auction for the player's services. If no team places a full claim, the team with the highest partial claim is awarded the player. If two teams bid the same amount, the club with the worse record wins out.

For a few more details on the amnesty process, check out our complete explanation in the Hoops Rumors glossary.

Which teams still have the amnesty provision available?

Exactly half of the NBA's 30 teams have used the amnesty provision in the last two offseasons, leaving 15 clubs with the option of amnesty still at their disposal. These are the teams still in play, per our amnesty provision tracker:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Bobcats
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Miami Heat
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • New Orleans Hornets
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Utah Jazz

Which players are still eligible to be amnestied?

While there are 37 players still eligible to be amnestied, some are likelier candidates than others. I examined a few of this summer's potential amnesty candidates back in March, but here's the complete list of players that technically remain amnesty-eligible, along with the money left on their deals (starting in 2013/14):

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