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.