The day the Suns' season should have started and amnesty clause chatter

Today we should be talking about the Phoenix Suns opening their season at home against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

We should be discussing the importance of this opening three-game homestand that includes games against the Lakers and Blazers as well and what kind of edge the Suns get with the Thunder having played last night against the Lakers.

Instead the only NBA news we’ve got concerns talk of “a vast gulf” in the union and the contents of a letter from Billy Hunter to the players in which he explains why talks collapsed last week.

We are still a few weeks before players will feel any sort of financial pain in the form of missed paychecks, but now fans are feeling the hurt from the start of a November without basketball.

The MLB playoffs are over  and now unless you’re a hockey fan there are no pro sports to keep us occupied during the weekdays.

This of course is no jarring revelation. We’ve known for months games would likely be missed and they have been officially canceled for weeks.

But that makes it no less sad that US Airways Center will be dark tonight rather than playing host to a showdown of a home opener against Durant and Russell Westbrook’s powerhouse team.

ESPN on likely amnesty cuts

It’s widely expected that the new CBA will include a multi-year amnesty clause that will allow teams to eliminate 75 percent of a contract’s value from their salary cap amortized over the length of the deal (although they will still, of course, have to pay the full value of the contract).

ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford hypothesized that Josh Childress would be the Suns’ most likely cut, with Mickael Pietrus and Hakim Warrick being other candidates.

Their reporting tells them that “all available signals suggest Phoenix is in wait-and-see mode,” with their sources saying the Suns haven’t committed to anything beyond ridding themselves of Vince Carter’s deal. Stein and Ford rate it as a “jump ball” whether the Suns will use their amnesty clause this season.

Ford also wrote that the Suns would save $20.3 million the next three years by using the amnesty on Childress.

They would save $3 million each of the next two years by amnestying Warrick. I don’t see any utility in using it on Pietrus since he possesses an expiring deal.

To me all future amnesty decisions should focus on the Summer of 2012 and beyond, especially since the Suns would have minimal cap space this offseason anyway if it is lowered.

Cutting Childress would bring that figure down to just over $23 million in currently committed salary for 2012-13 (not including Markieff Morris’ unsigned rookie deal). Using the amnesty on Warrick would bring that figure down to $25 mil so the all-important 2012 summer isn’t even much of a differentiating factor in this amnesty decision.

Really it will come down to whether the Suns expect Childress to be a future rotation player (starter?) for the bulk of his deal and after that whether management is willing to just consider Childress’ $27 million remaining salary a sunk cost.

If the Suns believe in Childress or don’t want to call that investment a loss one year in then Warrick will at least provide a bit of 2012 relief.

Tags: Amnesty Clause Hakim Warrick Josh Childress Lockout

  • Scott

    If the Suns can’t include Childress in a trade for a star guard, I think they’re likely to keep him. Pietrus is too injury-prone to be relied upon, and at best he’s with the team for one more year. Also, how many more years will Hill be with the team?

    If Warrick isn’t included in a trade, and he isn’t successfully moved to a backup SF position, then I could see him getting outplayed by the rookie PFs already on the team, simply because they will rebound and defend better, being bigger bodies than the rail thin Warrick. That would make Warrick available for amnesty … but I still don’t see it being used, unless the Suns find themselves desperate for that tiny bit of cap space.

  • PHS suns fan in LA

    lets cut hakim and vince and try to get andre iguodala and give pf time to markeiff and gani lawal, whenever the lockout ends…o and try to get goran dragic back lol

  • sun-arc

    It’s a hard call.

    Warrick is actually a good player, particularly offensively. I think he would be better defensively as a 3. Plus, getting our team mind-set more consistant and focused could make him a better player for us overall. He’s Nash’s best pick-n-roll partner too.

    Chilly has a ton of potential to be more useful to the team than he showed last year. He can be a decent replacement for Hill, who may not be around for more than a year if at all. Maybe he needed a year to shake off Greece. Maybe it was the injury. But he did show signs at the end of the year.

    Chilly’s contract is worse, but he may be more valuable to the team unless Warrick is used as a SF, or they can find a better replacement for Hill (good luck saving money there).

    My guess is they keep them both this year at least.

    Mike is dead-on about having money and flexibility for the 2012 FA & Draft. I’m convinced that is the team’s aim. And these guys as trade bait at that stage isn’t too bad. Hakim’s dunks are entertaining. Chilly could become a fan favorite. We’ll see.

  • Steve

    I’d want to keep them both for this season unless they could swing a deal involving one or both of them for an obviously better player. The Suns are at least two players away from being a contender, and one player away from a 6-8 seed. I honestly don’t want them to get that one player. I want them to have another mediocre year that has the potential to net them a top 10 pick. Our only shot at that is keeping the roster we currently have. Make any moves, and we’re in danger of getting better.

  • Scott

    If it was possible to get Iggy (there’s always the rumor he’s available, but I never believe it), then I’d offer the Sixers Childress, Warrick, and Lopez for Iggy and Vucevic. Philly has 4-5 of their C/F positions potentially going empty (if this season ever starts), and young talent at SG they may want to explore. If the Sixers are thinking they need more future cap room, they might prefer taking Pietrus over Childress, since MP’s contract is expiring.

    If the Suns keep Warrick, I hope they explore making him a backup SF. When he was drafted the scouts said he’d play best at 3, but so far no team has moved him there. With the range on his jumper improving, I’d play him a bit like Marion, and have him camp in the corner for a 3 or run in for a lob at the bucket. He can also stop midway and make the jumper. I doubt he’d become a defensive stopper like Marion, but in theory he’s better suited to guarding smaller guys on the perimeter than he is under the hoop. (His weight is the same as a SG, so beefy PFs just push him around.) His rebounding vs SFs would probably improve as well, since they’re more in his weight class and generally a touch smaller.

    Childress would do best at SG. He can’t shoot at all, apparently, but he can do the other things expected of that position. If the Suns don’t get a better SG in trade or FA, I’d start Childress.

    With no roster changes, aside from Carter heading off, I’d like to see: Nash, Childress, Hill, Frye, Gortat as starters, and Brooks, Dudley, Warrick, Morris, and Lopez as the 2nd unit.

    One guy on my FA radar is Michael Redd. Supposedly he’s all healed up but won’t be re-signed by the Bucks. So long as the Suns don’t have to pay him much, and so long as they have other players ready to back up him in case of injury, I’d seriously consider him. While I wouldn’t want a replay of the Carter situation last year, Redd used to carry the Bucks, and he’s got more promise coming back from injury than Brandon Roy (which isn’t saying much, I know).

    Another trade I’d explore would be Brooks for Mayo. If the season ever starts, the Grizz are going to have to pay Gasol a lot more. They may need to pinch pennies elsewhere. Mayo has underperformed for them, possibly due to team dynamics, and Brooks may be a better, cheaper fit.

  • Paul

    Theres only one possible reason that Suns wouldnt want to cut Childress: It creates an open roster spot that the Suns would have to fill. That is, they would have to pay an additional player.

    Childress is beyond worthless. He doesnt fit the system, he doesnt fit any system. Signing him was beyond bizarre and heres the Suns ONE chance to undo that mistake but they might pass because Sarver’s so cheap.

  • Michael Schwartz

    The more I think about it the more I agree there is no reason to use the amnesty this season if it is a multi-season exception. The Suns won’t be players this season so may as well get another year to evaluate Childress/Warrick and make the cut next offseason. The answer could be crystal clear by then, for example if Childress plays the kind of role he was supposed to last year. It will be one less free year the Suns have to pay as well.

    So I think waiting it out is the best choice and then cut Childress in 2012 if he underwhelms again and Warrick if Childress proves to be a solid rotation player.

  • Steve

    Paul, I think you’re a little harsher on Childress than necessary. Childress had an abysmal season last year from an overall performance standpoint, but the man had consistently performed at an above-average rate every other year he was in the league (4 years with the Hawks). He was never a GREAT player with the Hawks, but he was definitely serviceable. For example, his PER with the Hawks was better than G-Money’s with the Suns, yet every Suns fan in the world praises Hill as if he’s one of Phoenix’s brightest stars (myself included. I love Hill, even though his on-court production really isn’t all that impressive).

    Childress is a career 53% shooter, including a TSP of 60% Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Nash is the only Sun with a higher TSP than Childress (by less than 1%). Plus his WS/48 is well over .100, which is another indicator he’s a better-than-average player.

    I think he was a terrible signing for the amount of money we gave him. Don’t get me wrong. I would pay Childress about half of what he’s getting now (probably closer to 1/4) if I were writing the checks and no other idiot owner would sign him for more.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t think he’s nearly as bad as you’re saying he is. All the measurables would indicate he’s actually a pretty good player.