The Los Angeles Lakers are one of 13 NBA teams that still have yet to take advantage of the amnesty clause in the collective bargaining agreement.
The provision would allow L.A. to rid themselves of a player’s contract, without having it affect their salary cap. A player has to have been signed with the team before the 2011-2012 season in order for them to be eligible.
Only Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Meta World Peace fit the criteria of Los Angeles players that can be amnestied. All three players have been starters on Los Angeles for the past couple of years, but the club could certainly benefit from trimming their payroll.
Will the Lakers use the amnesty clause in the 2013 offseason?
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When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested the possibility of the Lakers making Bryant a free agent, the idea seemed unfathomable. He’s one of the best players in NBA history, a fan favorite, and proved this past season that he can still play at a high level, averaging 27.3 points per game.
When Bryant went down with a torn Achilles, however, it at least raised the question of whether or not the team would consider making the move. He’s set to make over $30 million in 2013-2014, which essentially ensures that the team will be over the salary cap threshold. L.A. will be paying a lot of money to a player that could miss a good portion of the year.
The initial recovery time for Bryant has been set between six and nine months, meaning there’s a chance he won’t return until around the All-Star Break. Bryant has even speculated that next season could be his last, and the Lakers could use the money they save to sign a younger free agent.
As the team’s best player and the face of the franchise, it’s very unlikely that the Lakers will amnesty Bryant. Still, it’s something Los Angeles will have to think about.
Gasol’s future in L.A. is very much up in the air.
The power forward had his worst season with the Lakers, averaging career lows in points and field goal percentage. He battled through injuries, missing 33 games, and was forced to come off the bench in seven contests.
The play of Gasol over the past year would indicate that he’s not worth the over $19 million that he’s set to make. He’s already played in 12 seasons and may not be able to compete at an elite level consistently.
If the Lakers don’t use the amnesty clause on Gasol, it may be because the team wants to trade him. With just one year left on his contract, the seven-footer is a valuable commodity on the trade market. Even has he struggled this year, he was involved in several trade rumors.
Dwight Howard is a free agent, but the odds suggest that he’ll be back in Lo Angeles next season. With a younger big man likely to sign a long-term deal, there’s a good chance the Lakers will find a way to rid themselves of Gasol.
Metta World Peace
The man formerly known as Ron Artest has a $7.7 million player option for next year. After the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs, World Peace said he didn’t know for sure whether or not he’d be back, but it’s not likely that he’ll walk away from that kind of money.
There has been speculation throughout this season that World Peace would end up being the victim of the amnesty provision. His skills have declined in his four years with the Lakers, and they might be better off playing a younger option at small forward.
World Peace’s contract isn’t nearly as detrimental to the team’s salary cap as Bryant’s or Gasol’s are. However, his production doesn’t come close to matching what the Lakers two stars can give them.
He has just one year left on his contract, so the organization may decide to keep Artest for one more season. However, his lack of production might make him the most likely candidate to be released.