Posted by: Kingsguru21 | August 10, 2011

To amnesty or not to amnesty Francisco Garcia is not the question

There has been talk of a potential amnesty clause in the next CBA. And, for some Kings fans anyway, that will include should the Kings amnesty Garcia. The short answer, from my vantage anyway, is no. The long answer? Well, what do you think the rest of this post is?

First, let’s acknowledge a few things. I’m only talking about a potential amnesty clause that, unless you’re aware of something at this moment in time that I’m not, has not been agreed to by the players and owners yet. If the amnesty clause works the way it did in 2005, let’s assume that at worst. (I doubt it would be that weak of an amnesty clause but whatever.) It will be most likely what David Aldridge proposed it should be on June 20th: A get out of jail free card for teams that made real mistakes on players. Plus, the best part of it will be that a team will get a choice of when to use this amnesty at any point moving forward. (This is in part due to the 2012 FA class that includes the Dwight Howards, Chris Pauls and Deron Williams’ of the world.) Can’t beat that right?

Here’s the problem: You still have to pay a player even if you’re taking that amnesty’d player completely off your cap. That’s what a lot of fans don’t recognize.

Check out the Kings salary (Disclaimer: As always all salary data is from ShamSports and typically I just link it but due to the fact that Deeks has not updated–which I do not blame him for–has required me to put the data in one handy place for the purpose of this exercise):

Sacramento Kings future salary 2011-12 salary 2012-13 salary 2013-14 salary
Samuel Dalembert* 19,045,250 N/A N/A
John Salmons 8,500,000 8,083,000 7,583,000
Francisco Garcia 5,800,000 6,100,000 6,400,000
Tyreke Evans 4,151,640 5,251,825 6,927,157
DeMarcus Cousins 3,627,720 3,880,800 4,916,974
Jason Thompson 3,001,284 4,129,767 N/A
JJ Hickson 2,354,537 3,357,569 N/A
Jimmer Fredette* 2,308,320 2,481,480 2,654,640
Donte Greene 1,679,914 2,503,071 N/A
Marcus Thornton* 1,059,293 N/A N/A
Hassan Whiteside 788,872 847,307 905,742
Tyler Honeycutt* 500,000 N/A N/A
Isaiah Thomas* 500,000 N/A N/A
Total 53,316,830 Not going to bother to compute this Not going to bother to compute this

Turquoise: Team options
Red: Qualifying Offers (or cap holds)
Silver: Team options

Notes (or *’s next to player’s names): Sammy Dalembert & Marcus Thornton’s *’s represent their cap hold if the current salary cap was in place. Since cap holds are not likely to change much if at all for the next CBA (they are mostly about keeping teams from Miami in accomplishing what they did–which would have worked if Bosh, James & Wade had all demanded max money). This explanation by Coon is a much better way of describing it.

As far as Fredette, his numbers are all cap holds and figured for 120% of the rookie scale at the 10th pick according to the 2011-12 rookie scale. (This is mostly just to illustrate that Fredette will be part of the salary number regardless of what his rookie salary is.) The reason I chose to include Fredette here is that, technically, the cap hold already applies to the Kings salary cap the moment the Kings selected Jimmer on June 23rd. From Coon again:

Unsigned first round picks are included in team salary immediately upon their selection in the draft. Once a first round pick signs a contract, his actual salary is included in the team salary, of course.

With regards to Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas, a team either has 12 salaries, or, if they don’t have 12 salaries, the rest of the roster will be finished out with 2nd round pick draft scale (it’s usually around 450 K or so) and that’s what the cap holds for Honeycutt/Thomas will be. It would be the same if the Kings renounced Honeycutt or Thomas so there is no real point to renouncing them. And I’m not sure what the total will be for sure so I’ll just stick with 500 K to be safe and not come under a realistic number for what the Kings cap room situation will look like.

As far as Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins team options, I’m pretty sure they’ll be picked up and I just haven’t seen anything that indicates such things were done. It’s a minor technicality that is not to be worried about in any way. There is no way the Kings are not picking up those options. It’s simply a matter of timing.

Why did I not bother to compute the 2012-13 or 2013-14 seasons? Because I don’t know what those salaries will look like yet and thus no point to worry about anything beyond a potential free agent period coming up (hopefully) in the sometime whenever it is near future.

One last point to make is that the total category, while probably pretty close to accurate, is not the actual salary. It’s just that cap holds exist to keep teams from signing other team Free Agents before signing their own. It’s a good rule and has helped keep teams, for the most part, from destroying the smaller markets.

******

Some thoughts about the table go as follows. Let’s assume the Kings re-sign Dalembert this summer. There is no way that Dalembert makes 19 million dollars in any scenario. It’s not likely Dalembert would make more than 10 mill in any year of a future contract let alone 19 million. Thus, if you take away 10 million off that cap hold that’s about what Dalembert’s cap number. Why is this important?

If you’re going to go after Nene Hilario in Free Agency, Dalembert’s cap hold will have to either be A) renounced (not preferable to me) or B) re-signed at a significantly lower number than the current (likely) cap hold. This is especially true if the Kings attempt a Sign & Trade for Nene.

As far as Thornton goes, this could get thorny. Especially if Thornton isn’t happy with waiting while the Kings hammer out a deal for Nene. Thornton could very easily force the Kings hand simply by wanting his money now.

******

Why does this matter and why does this have to do with Francisco Garcia? Well, let me think, if you’re going to amnesty a player and just pay him to go away, you’d better have a reason. Like, you want to sign a top tier Free Agent whose worth is well in excess of the deal he eventually signs (like a Dwight Howard). Is that going to happen here for the Kings?

Another reason is that you’re going to get a clear upgrade over Cisco at the same position and need that cap room to sign that player. Here is a list of restricted and unrestricted FA’s for 2011 & 2012 according to ESPN.

Let’s say for a moment that Shane Battier and Tayshaun Prince are the best veteran SF’s. Are they both worth that much more as players that you’d automatically pay for Cisco to go away (because if you amnesty Cisco he is still being paid) while paying Battier & Prince some good money (probably more than what Cisco will make in either of the next 2 years) for at least 3-4 years. Is it really worth it?

I think not.

But do I like Battier or Prince enough to sign them to a 3-4 year deal at 6-7 million while paying Cisco for the next 2 years? Especially when you have Salmons making over 7.5 million the next 3 years himself? No. Especially when I’m not sure I’d rather have Battier or Prince (despite what reputations they do have and how Salmons is currently perceived by fans) backing up Salmons at this point.

At some point, and I think it takes foresight to see it this way, is that an upgrade today doesn’t mean you really are getting an upgrade. Let’s say the Kings sign Nene, re-sign Dalembert and Thornton and then sign Honeycutt and Thomas to be part of the roster.

Dalembert is going to get a big chunk of money next year. Thornton’s money is likely to be similar to Cisco’s or higher. Plus, would Battier or Prince even be happy with being the 7th or 8th man on a team that isn’t a championship contender and arguably a playoff contender? I doubt it.

In other words, amnestying Francisco Garcia doesn’t make sense any way you slice it. But there are other silver linings that I haven’t even mentioned yet.

Let’s say the Kings make the playoffs in 2012. That means the 1st round pick to Cleveland will be given next summer. Is this a big deal? No, I wouldn’t say so. But, it also means you’re decreasing your likelihood of getting a serviceable player at SF. That is, unless, you think Tyler Honeycutt could be that guy and you think 2 years is a requisite amount of team around veteran players to ply his trade at the NBA level.

In otherwords, you have a stopgap 7th/8th man in Francisco Garcia for the next 2 seasons. If Cisco continues to be injury prone, or Tyler Honeycutt beats him out for that spot, what have you lost?

So why would you amnesty Francisco Garcia without a real financial or roster based reason to do so? The answer is you wouldn’t.

Yes I realize Francisco Garcia is overpaid. Yes I realize in saying that Garcia would benefit a 45-50 win team much more than a sub 25 win team is my opinion without an actual historical fact to base it on. Yes I realize that Garcia’s numbers are not necessarily anything to swoon over. But, neither are Battiers and Princes. The issue is most likely moot since Battier or Prince is not coming here anyway.

Personally, I think the next 2 years is about Garcia regaining whatever he had prior to signing his extension in 2008 (something that at the time I thought was necessary) or Honeycutt taking that 7th/8th man in the rotation from Garcia. Either way, Garcia, even if he is the worst contract on the team is only on the roster for 2 more years (Garcia’s contract for the 3rd season is a team option with no money owed to him).

If John Salmons is a bridge to the SF of the future (and I’ve argued Salmons is–well in my head anyway–that Salmons is certainly that), Garcia is the stopgap wing that is a convenient target for fans who wish to see their personal pet aboard the Kings train.

Let’s be real here: There is nothing but personal desire to be gained by amnestying Francisco Garcia if there is ever a real off-season upcoming.

Is Garcia being a weak link undesirable? Sure it is. But it’s a heck of a lot more detrimental to the Kings ability to perform on the court if Garcia is your best starting SF (as it happened to be the case last season) simply due to attrition. At least John Salmons can come in and become that starting level of SF the Kings absolutely need if they wish to make a playoff run. Moving Cisco to the bench is not likely to do anything but help the bench at the very least. (Especially if Cousins and Fredette/Thornton are coming off the bench.)

The potential benefits of Francisco Garcia, as strange as this is, actually outweigh the benefits of creating a situation where you’re paying a guy to just go away. Even then, since when it is advantageous for the Kings to throw away money? The only real way to move past a mistake is to let it go. Even if the player is still on the roster. (AKA, let go of the Kenny Thomas pill.)

You can argue all you wish, but I’d bet you money (and I don’t gamble for many reasons; but I do make the occasional bet) that not only Petrie won’t amnesty Garcia, but GP won’t even see the advantage in doing so.

Just for the sake of argument, and to illustrate the real purpose of this exercise, let’s say the Kings made money like the Knicks or Lakers. The Knicks have no long term contracts on the roster other than Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. I doubt they are amnestying either of those guys. (Actually, well, you know, the Knicks aren’t doing that or even considering it.) Thus, it would make no sense given the Knicks situation to not amnesty any player (including Chauncey Billups) and let the string play out. The Knicks aren’t even likely to pay luxury tax next season.

The Lakers on the other hand have a few candidates that could fit the bill assuming they choose to use their amnesty right away. Luke Walton, or Steve Blake are the likely bets. Of the two, I can see Walton being the target for a couple reasons. The Lakers have Ron Artest and Matt Barnes at the SF spot. Walton makes more money than Blake for the next 2 seasons (although Blake has 1 more year and about 500K more due total on his contract) and thus I see Walton as the most likely candidate. Plus, the Lakers are likely to be a runaway winner (at 93 million) for payroll next season and could save money by waiving the player who stands to be lost without hurting the roster while maximizing the savings in terms of non-payment of luxury tax.

Again, I just illustrated how easy it is to see why an amnesty clause is likely to come around for a variety of reasons. Teams like the Magic could use the amnesty clause in 2012 to waive Gilbert Arenas (or Hedo Turkoglu) to open up cap room to sign Chris Paul or Deron Williams. The Sixers could do the same with Elton Brand to open up room for Dwight Howard.

In otherwords, there are lots of reasons to include an anytime during the next CBA one time use of an amnesty. None of those reasons include using that potential amnesty on Francisco Garcia this off-season.

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Responses

  1. I agree. I personally like FG off the bench on offense and defense when healthy. And thats a lot of money to spend on a minor upgrade like Battier IMO. Another interesting question is: Do Blazers use it on Roy. I think they would absolutely have too.

    • Assuming the amnesty is a one time anytime type of deal (you can use it during the life of the next CBA in otherwords), I doubt the Blazers will do that on Roy. They may hold out hope that Roy either becomes tradeable, healthier or something. Whatever the case may be, there isn’t many long term contracts on the Blazers roster right now.

      That alone makes me believe that the Blazers won’t waive Brandon Roy because they will still have to pay Brandon Roy a lot of money and that’s not an exceptionally attractive idea.


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