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NBA Lockout: Rashard Lewis, The Amnesty Clause And The New Salary Floor (UPDATED)

UPDATE: A memo of the agreement obtained by Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated changes the numbers a bit. Read on for more.


The NBA lockout is now (tentatively) over, which means we can start to think about what the Washington Wizards roster will look like next season.  We went over the basics in a previous post, but let's dive in a little deeper with the numbers and answer why using the amnesty clause (not agreed upon, but likely to be a part of the new deal) on Rashard Lewis will present a new series of problems.

First, let's take a look at the current salary situation.  Data via HoopsHype:

Number Player name 2011/12 salary
1 Rashard Lewis $22,152,000
2 Andray Blatche
3 John Wall $5,530,080
4 Nick Young* $3,695,857
5 Jan Vesely** $2,554,200
6 JaVale McGee
7 Kevin Seraphin $1,680,360
8 Trevor Booker $1,294,920
9 Chris Singleton** $1,237,500
10 Jordan Crawford $1,120,440
11 Othyus Jeffers* $1,059,293
12 Hamady Ndiaye* $963,872
13 Larry Owens* $963,872
14 Shelvin Mack*** $473,604
TOTAL **** $47,199,334


* = Qualifying offer

** = Rookie salary scale.  Chris Sheridan reported that the rookie salaries will stay the same as they were last year.  Here's last year's scale.

*** = This was the salary of Armon Johnson, last year's 34th overall pick.

****=Add in the spare $1,125,874 for Mike Bibby's buyout.

There's a problem here with the minimum salary floor.  Make the jump for more on that.

The new agreement (or at least the one released to players before -- haven't seen any reported change in the current proposal) raises the team salary floor to 85 percent of the salary cap (it was at 75 percent) for the first two years, followed by 90 percent thereafter.  The salary cap for this season will be identical to the cap for last year, with the only difference being that it's all pro-rated.  Last year's salary cap was $58 million.  Eighty-five percent of $58 million***** is ... $49.3 million*****.

As you can see, then, the Wizards still need to spend some money.  Take away the qualifying offers for Young, Owens, Jeffers and Ndiaye, and the Wizards' total team salary will be $41,575,733*****.  That means the Wizards will need $7,724,267***** on at least four players in order to reach the minimum salary floor.  Lots of that can go to Young, so it's not like this is insurmountable, but it's worth noting.

But here's the thing: this is all with Lewis on the team.  If the Wizards use the amnesty clause on Lewis, that means 75 percent of his salary will be wiped away from the cap Therefore, the Wizards will need to spend another $16,614,000***** just to reach the salary floor, raising the total amount they need to spend to $24,338,267*****.

That's the big reason why I doubt Lewis will actually be amnesty'd.  This is a weak free agent class, and given where the Wizards are in the rebuilding stage, I strongly doubt they'll want to spend that much money this summer.  Instead, they'll keep Lewis, let him go next year and give themselves more money to spend in 2012, when there are a ton of marquee free agents available.  That would be the smart play, at least.

As for cap space, here's where the Wizards stand:

  • WITHOUT LEWIS: $33,038,267*****

This isn't the summer to have $33 million***** in cap space.  Next summer?  Absolutely.  This summer?  I don't think so.

***** : all figures for an 82-game season, so all are pro-rated.


UPDATE: Via the memo sent to the players, obtained by Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, emphasis mine:

Each team permitted to waive 1 player prior to any season of the CBA (only for contracts in place at the inception of the CBA) and have 100% of the player's salary removed from team salary for Cap and Tax purposes.

In which case, Lewis' entire salary could go bye-bye, which would put the Wizards even further from the salary floor. Here are the updated figures if the Wizards were to use the clause on Lewis:

  • TOTAL TEAM SALARY: $18,364,440**** for nine players (minus the qualifying offers)
  • TOTAL UNDER THE CAP (assuming $58 million cap level): $39,635,560****.
  • TOTAL TO SPEND TO REACH THE FLOOR: $30,935,560****.

Seems to me this makes it even more unlikely the Wizards will use the clause on Lewis, unless there's a way to find $31 million**** in salary for next year that doesn't hamper the long-term rebuilding effort.