With a mere 11 games left in what has become yet another lame-duck season, and only the recent futility of the Milwaukee Bucks stopping the Raptors from being mathematically eliminated from the postseason, I figured it was high time to begin looking forward to what could quite easily become one of the most pivotal offseasons in franchise history – or, alternatively, yet another “hurry up and wait” few months.¬†Today, I’m talking about the amnesty provision.

For those out of the loop, here’s a quick primer on the amnesty provision: created in the wake of last season’s work stoppage, the provision allows each NBA team to waive one contract signed prior to the 2011-2012 season. Teams will still have to pay the waived player’s contract (if they sign with another team, the balance of their previous contract), but will remove said player from their salary cap – essentially allowing NBA GM’s to clear one onerous contract that they themselves negotiated pre-work stoppage. Ah, the wonders of collective bargaining.

To date, half the league’s teams have used their amnesty provision, waiving contracts that range from the mildly annoying (Chris Andersen) to the insane (Gilbert Arenas). The Raptors, as you either know or may have guessed, are not one of those teams, and, with their salary total already rapidly approaching the luxury tax line without adding any new money this offseason¬†(it was $70 million this year, though it’s expected to increase by as much as 20%), speculation has run wild on whether or not the Raptors will use their provision to clear some money and go for another large piece of the puzzle, rather than simply sign a few players on minimum contracts/exceptions.

On the current Raptor roster, only 4 players have contracts that were signed prior to the NBA’s work stoppage and would thus qualify for the amnesty provision. The first of these is Rudy Gay, who may be the most intriguing option when it comes to combing salary from the team given his current production – he’s due nearly 18 million next season. However, with their already being buzz from the front office about signing him to an extension, the amount the team gave up to get him, and the fact that, even if he submits a dismal season next year, he’s an 18 million dollar expiring contract trade chip at worst, chances of that happening are about as close to absolute zero as one could get. Safe to say this would be the shocker of shockers. Equally crazy would be the amnestying of Amir Johnson, who’s become a bargain at just over $6 million due next year.

Editor’s Note (from Blake): Garrett you stupid idiot. Gay can’t be amnestied…had to be on the roster at the time of the new CBA. You silly, silly, dumbstruck Aaron Gray looking bastard.

Eliminating those two players from the discussion, that leaves just two viable candidates for the Raps’ amnesty provision: Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani. Next season, Kleiza has a $4.6 million player option that he will almost certainly exercise, but is only on the books for one more year, while Andrea is due over $10 million over the next two seasons.

Essentially, amnestying Kleiza would be an indication by the Raptor front office that there was simply no better option on the table, clearing a small amount of salary that may be the difference between the Raptors accessing the mid-level exception and not, depending on the other moves they make during the offseason. Amnestying Bargnani would be a far more bold move, in that it would clear substantially more salary, while at the same time ridding the team of a player that has shown flashes of above-average NBA skill and is thus more valuable around the league, though perhaps not at his current salary.

So, then – herein lies the dilemma: Kleiza, or Bargnani? Given the circumstances, it’s a difficult call, and one that I’m not going to make a definitive statement on here, but the crux of the argument seems to be based on Bargs’ trade value: firstly, does it exist, and secondly, who is available? If the Raps were to make a move for a big salary piece through the trade market (let’s say Pau Gasol for argument’s sake), Bargnani’s giant contract may become an asset for salary matching purposes. If they choose to pursue said player via free agency (again, for argument’s sake, let’s go with Josh Smith), the teams’ salary flexibility would be so compromised that they’d have no choice but to amnesty Bargnani to clear up enough money to sign said player. In either case, a major move for an All-Star calibre player certainly precipitates Bargs’ tenure in Toronto being over, either through the amnesty provision or via a trade.

Then again, if the Raps choose to stand pat with their current core (and/or if Bargs proves unmovable), the amnesty needle moves toward Linas Kleiza – should he stay or should he go? In my opinion, the answer is that he should stand pat, unless the team’s salary situation becomes so onerous that there is no other option but to amnesty a player. With Kleiza’s salary coming off the books next season, the Raptors’ may be better served waiting a year, assessing Bargnani’s progress and potential trade value during the year, and giving themselves the option to use the provision on him during what should be a stacked 2014 free agent class. Assuming Kleiza is back and can provide replacement-level minutes at small forward, the team shouldn’t suffer too much, and, while his contract is far too high to justify his production, it’s not the sort of deal that puts teams in horrible financial situations.

The correct course, it seems, is to stand pat, play out the year, and wait for 2014 (and a bunch of cap space, and a 1st round draft pick to play with). That said, we’re all realists here in RaptorLand, and I have a feeling Colangelo isn’t going to be using this summer to push another rebuilding year. If I were a betting man, my money’s on Kleiza packing his bags from the Big Smoke within the next couple months.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Let’s hear ’em.

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  • Statement

    Amnesty Colangelo.

    • Nilanka15



      Amnesty the greedy corporate (media) ownership that only cares about securing ad money. BC is just the perfect fit for the Kool Aid vendors, he’s not going anywhere. Get someone in here that cares about winning, not staying in the black and pushing bobbleheads.

    • Guest

      Good thing I clicked this thread. Got a good laugh.
      Don’t even need to read more. As one of the most passionate Raps fan on this board (you guys see me speak my mind) I actually don’t even give a shit, I might as well go watch a Miami game, at least its fucking entertaining.
      IDK about you, but I’d rather lose ugly with Jose at the helm with ball movement and team ball then see this shit.
      I knew those 2 game winners meant nothing. The fan base was going nuts, I was too, but anyone who watches Raptors basketball saw we we’re playing ugly, and bad.

      Do you remember how with Jose during that 10-10 stretch we we’re on top of the league in assists and Devlin was RAVING. Yeah, since he was traded, has that even been brought up? No. Devil doesn’t even talk about assists anymore, and I can’t even blame the guy, he is getting paid to look on the bright side, Jack is a much worse liar, and he is brought in for his basketball expertise, but he knows. “No disrespect to Rudy Gay,” (yeah Jack, you mean disrespect, and I do too.) This is sad. I can’t wait for next season, and I hope to GOD i’m wrong, and we can actually turn this shitty excuse of a franchise into a winner.

      Because lets be honest, if this team was located in Memphis, Milwaukee, or any small market, you’d have 5000 people in the stands, luckily the GTA has a population of 5 million +.

      Kyle Lowry, the 3 game wonder.

      • Adriiian

        God damn, I need a GF.

      • FAQ

        …for the record… “guest” is not FAQ… even though s/he sounds like FAQ from a couple of months ago … g’nite …

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        you do know that Gay came to the Raps mid-season, right?

        you do know Lowry’s been injured most the season, right?
        you do know that for the most part of the season Casey kept changing the rotation due to injuries and trades, right?
        you do know that 2 of the players getting minutes in the rotation are rookies, right?
        you do know that 5 games ago theyve pretty much given up on the season but these game announcers cant come out and actually say that,right?

  • Katman

    I was under the impression that only the signing team could amnesty their own player. So Rudy wouldn’t qualify.
    Regardles, great succinct summary.

    • Marz

      I was under this impression as well. Rudy Gay is not an eligible amnesty candidate.

    • The Truth

      Hmm, but if that was the case wouldn’t the Knicks have been prevented from amnestying Chauncey Billups?

      • The Truth

        Nevermind, checked myself. It’s not about who inked the contract but that they were on the team using the provision’s roster come July 1, 2011 and no further extensions etc. were entered into past that date.

    • Blake Murphy

      Ya, Garrett is the worst. I fixed this with a rude editor’s note.

      • thead

        what about the cap going up by 20%?

      • Nilanka15

        People don’t call each other “stupid idiot” enough. It’s clean, but still gets the harsh tone across, and does so with a touch of humour. Well done.

  • Lino

    I can’t stomach another season seeing Bargs in a raptor uniform. I supported him for such a long time and kept giving him the benefit that he will turn it around. He is a vibe killer and along with a couple others, Lowry and Fields I would like to see gone in favor of some proven talent. Easier said then done, but my fandom is almost at an end. I just can’t stomach this anymore.

    • nilanka

      you sad faggot…bargs hurts your tummy?…hurts your vibe?….wow.
      …we seriously have some queer as fuck fans.

      • truuth

        stealing peoples usernames, p00ka?

    • FAQ

      So who do you “love” on the Ratpor roster… Demar?

  • Marz

    I’ve been a Colangelo backer in the past, but I’m afraid about next season. People always cite his bad trades and FA signings as reasons to release him, but really it’s his roster turnaround that has been most detrimental to this team. Amnestying either Bargs or Kleiza is likely a move to create more roster change, and one that I would be against under most circumstances (the obvious exceptions being where we net some great talent… which isn’t happening :P).

  • thead

    1.) can’t amnesty a player you traded for

    2.) leaves Kleiza/Bargnani/Johnson (Johnson isn’t going anywhere and Kleiza may opt out an return to Europe)

    3.) Increasing the salary cap by 20% must be a typo as that would add 14 million to it which is an all star player for every team.

  • Paul

    Amnestying Bargs will not clear enough space to sign a player of Smith’s value. The Raptors have 65M committed for next season. (http://hoopshype.com/salaries/toronto.htm)
    If we were to amnesty Bargs (11M), that puts as at 54M, which leaves less than 6M in cap space (assuming a salary cap around 60M)

    This is not substantially different than the larger mid-level (for non-luxury tax teams) of 5M.
    I’m not saying we shouldn’t amnesty Bargs, but the notion (which you seem to support), that this move would somehow make us a player in free agency this summer, is totally false.

    • Paul

      Wow. Skimmed this in class and missed the 20% comment.
      Apparently Garret’s lack of understanding doesn’t stop with the amnesty provision.
      Sorry to pile on, but this is not up to the fine quality I’ve come to expect from this site (which I consider the best Raptors blog on the net).
      This entire article is bollocks!

      • WhiteVegas

        Yep, this article is comically bad. You should go here for more accurate Salary numbers:


        We’re actually at $67.8M next season, not $65M. I think $60M is a good estimate for the new cap, as it’s $58M right now. Amnestying Bargs only gets us to $57M, so really we’re talking $3M in cap space, not $6M. So amnestying Bargs makes no sense at all.

  • derpy

    u wrote this and u didnt know the amnesty rule? whose running this joint anyway? colangelo? must be.

  • guest

    How could you post an article about the amnesty provision written by someone who doesn’t understand even the basics of the amnesty provision? This, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with sports blogs.

    • duhhhh.. your comment deriding sports blogs would make sense if there was no comment section for discussion so we couldn’t all learn new info and corrected info

      • WhiteVegas

        So they should just write shoddy articles full of false statements and wait for us commenters to correct them?

        • an innocent mistake is not shoddy.. get a life moron

          • guest

            This was an article about the amnesty provision, and he got one of the basic, most well-known aspects of the amnesty provision wrong. I’m no basketball journalist, heck, I consider myself a casual fan, and I knew he was completely wrong right away. I don’t feel qualified to write about basketball (especially the business side), so yes, I’d call that shoddy.

            And by the way, legit news sites with qualified writers also have comment sections.

  • DumbassKicker

    1. As others have pointed out, and Blake even provided as an editors note, Garrett has written an article about an amnesty provision that he doesn’t even understand basics of. Rudy Gay,,,ummmm really? Worthless crap

    2. Amnestying Bargs this year is nothing short of dumb. Yeah, pay a guy $23M to walk away, while giving the Raps no benefit toward signing players (that disappeared when acquiring Rudy), while removing a trade chip that could be used to get someone substantial in a trade. Senseless.

    • p00ka

      more like dumb ass nigger.

      • ron burgundy

        that escalated quickly

        • Sig

          Haha, nice

    • WhiteVegas

      For real. Look up the salary numbers for next year before writing a whole damn article that makes no sense. We are currently at $67.8M salary for next season. If we amnesty Bargs, that only gets us down to $57M. The salary cap will probably be around $60M. So whoopty freaking doo, we just freed up ~$3M to sign someone, and it only costs us $23M and a trade chip to do so. I’m starting to believe Colangelo keeps his job because the fans are so damn dumb that he looks like a genius by comparison.

  • robertparrish00

    Someone explain to me….

    If we amnesty bargs over the next two seasons he is owed 10 000 000 each. So 20 million flushed down the toilet.

    Does a team have to pay out the full contract to the player to amnesty them? So basically we give Bargs 20 million for nothing to save on salary cap. How brutal is the salary cap tax.

    Serious question: Shouldn’t the raptors keep Bargs, assign him to the D league and see if he quits. Just asking.

    • FAQ

      If Bargs is amnestied, he will return to Italy with $20 Mil of MLSE’s money and he’ll most likely play some Euro ball for peanuts until he sucks MLSE dry. Why kill yourself playing a silly game in the NBA when you can go back home and enjoy life doing the things you like to do.

      • WhiteVegas

        He wouldn’t be able to go back to Italy. Someone would pick him up off amnesty wiavers, and he’d still be bound by his contract to play in the NBA through 2015.

    • WhiteVegas

      I’ll give you a real answer, since FAQ took it as another opportunity to “poo poo” bargs (like anyone who reads this site has any doubt about how FAQ feels about Bargs…..).

      Yes, a team is liable for the full contract of a player they amnesty. After being amnestied, the player moves to amnesty waivers where he is bid on by any team under the cap that wants him, the high bidder getting him. Whatever they high bid was is paid by that team, and subtracted from the amount the Raps would owe him. So if Bargs gets picked up off amnesty waivers for $5M per year, then $10M will be paid by his new team, and the other $12.25M will be paid by the Raptors.

      The luxury tax is brutal, but even with Bargs we’re $3M below the current luxury tax cap ($70M), and it should go up next season (I’d guess $72-75M). So we don’t save any money by doing this, it accomplishes nothing besides depriving us of an asset.

      We can’t assign Bargs to the D-League, you can only assign first or second year players to the D-League.

      I think we’ll trade Bargs so this won’t matter. But if he is still on the team, we can bring him off the bench in limited minutes, and he’s another useful big to practice against. It’s a lot better than paying him $23M to play for someone else.

  • thead

    NBA “REVENUE” was up 20%, I don’t think that directly increases the CAP 20% someone please correct this

  • DryDry

    All players who are amnestied should be put on two teams called the MONEYFLUSHERS A and MONEYFLUSHERS B and have to go from NBA game to NBA game playing 5 minute halftime games against each other.

    Losing team has to do 10 suicides before the end of halftime.

  • raptorspoo

    I wish we could amnesty the whole team! And trade all our supposed assets. Save a few pieces eg. Val and maybe Ross

    But since this is not possible i say the Only reason why you would amnesty Bargs is because we think we are a $10mil player away from being a real threat to win it all.


    • WhiteVegas

      The Raptors will never ever win it all. The sooner you come to that realization, the happier you will be. Realistically, the Raptors could compete for the top 4 spots in the Eastern Conference each year, so start rooting for that.

  • sangaman

    Playing in Toronto is worse than Celeveland and on par with the D league for most American home boys …Lowry and Gay are playing like relegated former stars jacking up shots and not giving damn, and this atitude is contagious. Only hope for TO to have a good team is to build on Euro talent without the same hangups.