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Amnesty Would Provide Limited Help

Although the NBA announced the cancellation of all preseason games scheduled from Oct. 9 – 15 yesterday, some Miami Heat writers have wrote about a perceived benefit of the lockout negotiations for Pat Riley. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman have both said that an amnesty clause in the next collective bargaining agreement could provide Riley the opportunity to sign quality players for cheap contracts. Upon looking at the potential candidates, anyone with basketball knowledge would conclude that the amnesty provision would only give the Heat marginal help, though.

The NBA’s previous CBA had a one-time amnesty provision, allowing teams to remove one player each from their payrolls to avoid paying the punitive dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on those players. The released players would still receive all of their guaranteed money and become free agents.

Baron DavisWindhorst and Winderman said that Miami could sign amnesty candidates like Baron Davis, Brandon Roy or Brendan Haywood. Winderman also pointed out that the Heat could release Mike Miller, who is owed $24 million over the next four seasons.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that prior to the February trade deadline, Riley offered to trade Miller for Haywood. The amnesty clause could give Riley the chance to essentially make the same trade. Both players had disappointing seasons last year, but Haywood doesn’t even look like an upgrade over Samuel Dalembert, a likely Heat free agent target. Releasing Miller would not be the best decision for the Heat, especially when considering that fellow 3-point specialist James Jones is an unrestricted free agent. Besides, the crop of swingmen available through free agency or the amnesty clause isn’t very appealing.

The Heat’s 2011 first round pick Norris Cole stands as the only point guard under contract, so perhaps Baron Davis is worth a look. Although Davis does not have great 3-point shooting ability, he has some discernible skills that could help the Heat. He can post up any other point guard and direct a fast-break very well. And coming to Miami on a one-year deal coupled with the Heat culture could provide the former New Orleans Hornet the motivation to get back in shape.

A similar situation presented itself to Miami last March, when Mike Bibby joined the team. He struggled mightily with his shot throughout the entire playoffs and didn’t even get off the bench during Game 6 of the Finals. Players who have received a buy-out or who are amnesty candidates were banished from their old teams, so it’s naïve to believe that they will have huge impacts on a championship-contending teams like the Heat. All of the players who could become free agents as a result of the amnesty clause are well past their primes.

In a post I wrote in June, I said that the Heat should fill in the remaining pieces of their roster with young players who can contribute rather than having a bunch of dead weight sitting on the bench. Perhaps Davis can contribute next year, but the amnesty provision won’t provide Miami with the silver bullet to win the championship whenever the lockout ends. Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony had their moments last season, and Norris Cole and Dexter Pittman are waiting in the wings. A couple tweaks – like signing Dalembert and Davis – could give Miami more than enough to win it all.