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By James Cypert – Los Angeles

With the NBA offseason now in full effect, basketball fans everywhere now turn to the developments of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that maintains the critical balance between players, owners and teams and threatens a lockout of the 2011-12 season.

One of the main points of the new proposed CBA would be the installation of a hard cap, limiting all teams to a fixed amount of player salaries that they are allowed to give.

The switch from a soft cap to a hard cap would lead to a drastic effect in the competitiveness of the NBA. Similar to in hockey and pro football where we see rotating champions year after year, the NBA would become less dynasty based. NBA teams that had paid extra luxury taxes annually to stay competitive would no longer be able to hold to this system, as small-market teams would be able to spend just as much as their big-city brethren.

Furthermore, the installation of a hard cap has led to speculation that “super teams” like the Miami Heat would have to dissolve under the financial limitations of the cap.

In reference to the league’s previous CBA in 2005, an “amnesty clause” was added to the cap considerations, which allowed each team to waive one player in order to wipe his contract from consideration towards the salary cap. The clause was a result of too many inflated, guaranteed contracts that had been given out to risky and overperforming players who had hamstrung front offices around the NBA.

For this year’s CBA, owners and the league are considering a similar proposal that would act as a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” to teams who had given out faulty or foolish contracts.

What would this amnesty clause mean for the Lakers? For one, let’s examine a few of the potential players for whom the Lakers could apply the clause.

Ron Artest – Three years / $21,776,880 remaining

After Trevor Ariza fled to the free agency during the 2008-09 offseason, Ron Artest was signed to bolster the defensive front for the Lakers and fill in as the starting small forward. What do you get with Ron Artest? Sometimes you get the flagrant two foul that led to his suspension in Game 3 of this year’s Western Conference Semifinals. Then again, sometimes you get his 20 point performance in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals. At 31 years of age, however, it’s hard to predict if Artest has any of the latter left in the tank and equally hard to justify the three years and more than $21 million left on his contract.

Luke Walton – Two years / $11,780,000 remaining

Here is a list of impactful small forwards who played more than nine minutes per game (Walton’s number this season) this season who had contracts this year for less money: Chase Budinger, Kyle Korver, Danilo Gallinari and Jeff Green.  Walton recorded career lows across the board in efficiency, and with two years and almost $12 million remaining on the books, some have been teasingly referring to this year’s amnesty clause as the Luke Walton Rule . Even Matt Barnes, who snagged the backup small forward role from Walton, will be paid less than $2 million next year.

Derek Fisher – Two years / $6,800,000 remaining

If the 2011-2012 NBA season begins on time, Derek Fisher will be 37 years old. Only Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are older starting point guards. While he has been a leader in the locker room and is part of many Laker memories, his age and speed have been a liability with limited playing time against the current speed point guards of the NBA. As the Laker organization, do you hold onto the contract of the aging Fisher as a favor to Bryant, who came into the league with him as a fellow rookie, or do you view Fisher as two years and almost $7 million that you can trim off the books?

Steve Blake – Three years / $12,000,000 remaining

Lauded as one of the key free agent signings for the Lakers chance at a three-peat this year, Blake had real issues getting acclimated with the Triangle offense. With three more years and $12 million dollars on the books, Blake is looking a lot less savy of a signing at 31 years of age. In addition to getting embarrassed by Jason Terry and J.J. Barea in the second round of this year’s playoffs, Blake shot under 36% for the year, a dubious feat he hadn’t done since his first two years in the league.

NOTE: It’s important to also keep in mind that with the league’s previous amnesty clause, the waived player cannot be reaquired by the team for the length of the contract that was waived. For example, if Luke Walton were waived, he would not be able to be resigned by the Lakers until his contract would have ended at the end of the 2012-13 season. If added to the CBA, what Laker contract do you think should be used for the amnesty clause?

  • Binky

    Luke

  • Csg3

    It has to be Luke. Blake should feel more comfortable out of the triangle and may end up bringing the value we expected. Artest will have more of an impact on this new defensive minded team and DFish has Kobe in his corner. The Lakers are getting zero return on Luke’s contract.

  • rondo

    Luke or Fisher Kobe does not matter!

  • Brain

    L U K E

  • 1computerguru

    Will brown continue with the triangle? he would have to learn it at a curve harder than a player right? definitely luke

  • Luke Sucks

    THIS IS A NO BRAINER.  PUKE NEEDS TO GO.

  • Jonathan

    but then when will we have a chance to yell “luuuuuuuuukkkkkkkeeeee” whenever he gets the ball? thats why we should continue to pay him +$11million. OBVIOUSLY

  • Marcus

    luke he gettin all tht money for nothing lol i would do more fo wayyy less lol

  • Anonymous

    Luke’s gotta go

  • CY1

    Worst contract ever in Laker history ” Amnesty ” or not , its time to dump this guy !!  
    The worst  ” D league ” player would be up grade to Luke who has been an underachiever and shot around  25% !  His departure has long been over due and the time has finnaly come to sent him on his way . On another subject , i am not sure why the Lakers don’t see Shannon Brown as thier next point gaurd , he is athletic , shoots more than 50% from the field and could be groomed to play the point instead of Fish who is another dude that should have been let go and should now sit on the bench hopefully as an assistant coach !!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/sd_32 Dmitry Surovtsev

      Did you saw his dribble drive?!

    • Luke Sucks

      Shannon is no PG.  He is athletic but a poor defender, dribbles out of control and tends to iso on offense.  Nothing more than a backup SG.

  • Hans4par

    Sorry LUKE, its time to go…

  • Anonymous

    What you do is you use the Amnesty for the biggest salary, Ron Artest. Then you send ssome of Ron’s Queensbridge “associates” to “convince” Luke to quietly retire and take a small buyout and EVERYONE’s happy!

    • TouchingMyself

      That’s what i’m talkin about!  Boooooo-ke’s gotta just retire!  Man, he’s probably the highest paid player in the league based on total number of games played and minutes!

      • Anonymous

        $5,260,000/484mins=$10,867.77/min.
        DAAAAAAMMMNNN!!!!

  • ilikebasketball

    i would love to see that kind of competitiveness in the NBA.
    and Blake needs to go. Luke needs to go cause he is always injured. Blake needs to go cause he sucked donkey ass all season. a

  • Luke is a HOF

    I personally think we shouldn’t use this clause for Luke Walton. I mean, we’re talking about a future Hall of Famer here. I think we should trade him for another superstar like Chris Paul or even D. Howard. We’ll be on the losing side if we trade Luke, but we need to make this very very huge sacrifice in order to make it to the playoffs.

    • http://twitter.com/biggieboy23 Brandon Banks

      Hall of Fame,  Are you serious?  I hope this is Bill Walton typing this cause that couldn’t be further from the truth.  He can get a championship from Kobe, but a Hall of Fame vote, no chance!!

      • Pjwkim

        sarcasm, bro.

      • Slava is a HOF

        Are you serious? Luke Walton is probably the second best player ever. Second to Slava Medvedenko. The NBA misses Slava. Too bad he had to go back home and take over his father’s sheep herding business.

  • Luke Sucks

    Another thought.  Package Walton as part of the deal if the Lakers are going to move a Gasol or a Odom.  Save the amnesty for Artest and go younger.

  • B.real

    LUKE HAS TO GO IF THE LAKERS WANT ANOTHER THROPHY IN THE NEXT 2 TO 3 YEARS

  • Ron

    I think Luke should definitely be the one amnestied. I’ll give him a little credit and say that he’s not Turrible( in my Charles Barkley voice) but he’s not worth 6 mil per year. I’d give him maybe 2 mil at the very most. He’s just so slow compared to his size and doesn’t shoot that well. He doesn’t fit well o. This laker team. He’s like a scalabrini type of player. I think Luke should offer to renegotiate his contract b/ c I don’t see him playing for any other team. From what I get from his situation I can’t see any team accepting him or his contract in a trade. I don’t think there’s any way it could work to benefit another team to take Luke this year, now mabe in right before the 2012-2013 season maybe a team would bite on a expiring contract but that doesn’t help us now