Between Bryan Colangelo referring to the upcoming summer as an “exciting and active” off-season and recent reports/rumours linking the Raptors with the likes of Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin, Raptors fans have become rightfully anxious to get the 2012 off-season underway.

While the May 30th Draft Lottery, the Draft itself and free agency are the obvious talking points for fans and media alike, I’ve been quietly wondering how, if at all, the amnesty clause might come in to play for Toronto this summer.

In case you need a reminder, the amnesty clause, which was included in the new collective bargaining agreement agreed upon to end last year’s lockout, allows teams to eliminate a contract signed prior to the lockout from their cap hit (and can only be used on a player that was on their team prior to July 1, 2011). Teams have until the 2015-16 season to use the provision and can only use it once. The amnesty can be used only during the seven days following the July moratorium (this season, that would be between July 11-17).

If we eliminate contracts signed post-lockout (like Gary Forbes) and eliminate cheap rookie scale contracts (like DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis), we’re left with four deals to look at. Those four deals belong to Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza.

Regardless of what you think of Bargnani, it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll be here when the 2012-2013 season tips off, and if he’s not, there’s no way in hell it’s because of the amnesty clause, so let’s just end that ridiculous discussion right now.

That leaves us with Amir, Calderon and Kleiza. Here’s how many years and how much money each of those guys has left on said contracts, according to HoopsHype:

Amir Johnson – 3 years, $19.5 million ($6 million in 2012-13, $6.5 million in 2013-14, $7 million in 2014-15)

Jose Calderon – 1 year, $10,561,985

Linas Kleiza – 2 years, $9.2 million ($4.6 million in 2012-13, $4.6 million player option in 2013-14)

For all we know, Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors may have absolutely no interest in using their amnesty option this year, but if they were to use it, it’s pretty much a certainty that one of the three players mentioned above would be the casualty.

To me, Calderon should no longer be in the amnesty mix for the Raptors. He had another solid and reliable season, and as a fairly sized expiring contract, you would have to think he has some decent trade value should the Raptors acquire a Nash or Lin.

That leaves Amir and Kleiza as the most sensible amnesty targets.

Amir is a workhorse who has become a fan-favourite in Toronto, and if he was playing on a smaller deal, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with him being a certainty in the immediate future plans of this team. But with a crowded frontcourt set to get even more crowded with the arrival of Jonas Valanciunas and a younger, cheaper option with a seemingly higher ceiling (Ed Davis) playing the same position, I’m not sure I really see a need to keep Amir Johnson here at $19.5 million over three years.

As for Kleiza, he’s been consistently inconsistent. He can look like a great bench scorer in some stretches, who is well worth $4.6 million per year, and looks painfully out of place at other times. When he’s off his game, Kleiza seems to make the most sense as an amnesty target, as $9.2 million over two years (assuming he picks up his 2013-14 player option) is a bit dicey for a guy you’re still not sure what you’re getting out of on a night to night basis.

Of course, what transpires between now and the middle of July, including the draft, trades and free agency, could impact an amnesty decision one way or another for the Raptors. And as I’ve mentioned several times, I’d obviously prefer the Raptors trade a player to get something in return instead of using the amnesty. But if a situation does arise where using the amnesty clause is in Toronto’s best interest, Amir Johnson and Linas Kleiza should find themselves in some unwanted spotlight.

Comments (17)

  1. Trading will likely be the number one option. I think the amnesty will only be used if they can’t get anything from a trade, sort of like a last resort type thing.

    Bargnani and Calderon are both pretty tradable, more so Calderon because of his expiring deal. But teams were pitching offers for them both at the deadline, so it’s likely they have trade value still.

    While Amir’s contract may be considered amnesty worthy, I don’t think he should be amnestied.

    Kleiza seems like the most likely candidate to me. Even though he’s only making 4.6 Mil for the next two years, he probably has very little value in return. But will they keep him just to help Jonas’ transition to the NBA? Who knows.

  2. Why talk about amnesty? Toronto is not in a situation where the Amnesty option is even necessary. They are way under the salary cap and both players still have some value and the Raptors can yse them for a trade down the line.

    • Yeah, the team doesn’t even have anyone signed past 2015 unless you count the incoming rookies.

      It’s one of those “we’ll cross the bridge when we get there” situations for me. If the team is able to make a major free agent signing or trade (which I still doubt) then we’ll consider our options but we shouldn’t be looking to amnesty someone.

  3. I beg to differ on Calderon. You amnesty him this summer he gives you $10 million in cap space. If that results in you upgrading to Nash or Lin then spending $10 million to make him walk is a good move. Calderon is not a part of the core and if you need the cap space to make moves, you do it.

    • Yes amnestying Jose Calderon would open $10 million right away, but I have to disagree that amnestying him is a good move for any reason. Because he is expiring and can help out another team, I would rather trade him for a second round pick before ever using the amnesty on him. Remember we have Linas Kleiza to think about.

    • Did you just say Lin is an upgrade over Jose?

  4. I’m pretty sure that whoever we amnesty will be directly related to who we’re able to get in the draft. If it ends up being a big, Amir’s gone; if it’s a SF, then Kleiza is gone.

  5. I think JV’s English is good enough already that he doesn’t need Kleiza as a translator. Heck, pay some kid $20k to be JV’s translator if necessary. Paying the tank commander $9.2 for this reason is just silly. If JV wants to talk to someone from his country, he can damn well afford a cell phone with unlimited minutes.

    Kleiza should be the person the new owners of MLSE spend their money to amnesty.

    They could get a better all around player in Ilyasova for close to the same money, or shoot for the moon and try for Danny Granger or Iguodala.

    Personally, I would NOT be in favour of Granger or AI. Neither are worth the money they will be making next year. Just dump Kleiza, pick up Ilyasova, and then focus all of your energy on trading Jose and acquiring Nash or Dragic or Lin to play with Bayless next season. Those would be team building moves. Granger and AI would be treadmill moves. Do not want.

  6. I’ve never understood any talk about amnestying Amir. It makes absolutely no sense, to me. The guy is an athletic, 25 year old big man who defends, rebounds, scores efficiently, works hard whether you play him 20 mpg or 35 mpg and never complains.

    And he makes LESS than the MLE.

    Oh, and he’s been one of the few Raptors in the last few seasons who’s consistently had a positive impact on the court. And this is someone you want to get rid of? Give me a break.

    Anyone who would consider amnestying Amir is someone I feel doesn’t understand the basics of building a winning team.

    • But Amir has been a part of this building process for how long now? Sorry if we do not have your “unnerstandings” of the game.
      Whether you agree or not bringing Amir up in the discussion is obvious.
      1)His contract, while not crippling, is sizable and two years remaining.
      2)Weren’t you bitching about Davis’s lack of minutes. His game most resembles Amir’s – and the contracts don’t compare.
      3)Both JV and the aforementioned Davis will make considerably less than Amir for the next few season’s. He will take minutes from both.
      3)He is coming off his most disappointing season as a Raptor
      4)I don’t think their are any takers out there for him.
      4)And you are one of the few who feels he adds more value than Bargnani, of which you are 100% blinded by your “unnerstandings” of the inticacies of the game.

      • Have you read the Raptors Republic hot topic thread? It is a PG comparison, but really creates a negative impression of Ed Davis’ effectiveness vs Amir.

        And off topic, even though Jose seems to win most of the PG comparisons, I’d still like to see Bayless as the starter next season, unless we get Nash of course.

      • @TInman

        Most of the roster has been part of the rebuilding process, so I’m not sure what your point is.

        1) Yes, but it’s no worse than Kleiza and Bargnani. Do the Raptors get rid of anyone who makes a decent amount of money for more than a season, or do they look at production and impact on the court and make the decision that way?

        2) Yes, I have complained about Ed Davis’ minutes, but I’m not sure why that automatically means you amnesty a valuable big man.

        3) Again, I’m not sure why you automatically amnesty him because he had a disappointing season. That doesn’t seem smart at all to me, especially considering the chances of him bouncing back next year are extremely good. And even with his most disappointing season, he STILL had one of the most positive impacts on the court among Raptor players.

        4) Okay, I’m not sure why you wrote “unnerstandings” twice, now, but whatever. And if you haven’t understood my Amir vs Bargnani argument by now, then unfortunately you’re never going to get it. I know some people like a clean cut, “you think this guy is better than that guy” argument because it requires little depth. Unfortunately, my reasons for wanting Amir over Bargnani are far more nuanced and reasonable than anything that you’ve seemed to claim.

        • I’d also like to point out that Amir is basically playing out of position at center. So not only is he fairly undersized to play the position, but he’s also usually guarding other team’s best post players, as well as picking up the slack for guys like Bargnani defensively.

          So, he actually may not have regressed as much as some people may think, if even at all. Getting rid of Amir, especially through an amnesty would send a terrible message to the team.

      • Oh, and your comment about not thinking there are many takers out there for him is extremely telling. And you say that I am prejudiced. You have absolutely not evidence, but still use this as an argument. You don’t think there would be many takers for a 25 year old, athletic big man who plays defense, rebounds, scores efficiently and consistently works hard. And THAT is a reason to amnesty him. Okay.

        • My response was to you asking why Amir is being brought up as a discussion in the amnesty talk.

          I believe my points are all valid, are they not?

          • And don’t look at this as an amnesty Amir rant – just thought I would clarify to you why it has been broached.

  7. BC was able to flip Hedo. He can flip any contract.

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