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Who Would the Trail Blazers Amnesty if Given the Chance?

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A total of 22 players were waived under the NBA’s now expired amnesty clause. If the provision was still available, which current Blazer would be the most likely candidate?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Almost six years ago the Trail Blazers announced they had amnestied the $68 million owed to one of the team’s favorite sons, Brandon Roy. Those cursed knees tragically and prematurely ended the career of one of the NBA’s brightest young stars.

Amnesty Clause Background

The amnesty clause was brought in under the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement, allowing teams to waive players signed prior to the 2011-12 season, without their burdensome wages impacting salary caps.

The clause allowed teams to amnesty one player until 2015-16 season, providing they were signed prior to that 2011 season. Other amnestied players included Gilbert Arenas (Orlando Magic), Chauncey Billups (New York), Baron Davis (Cleveland) and Travis Outlaw (New Jersey).

Unfortunately, to the chagrin of several teams, the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement had no such provision. Current overpaid players such as Joakim Noah (New York), Timofey Mozgov (Brooklyn) and Luol Deng (Lakers) would have been prime candidates for a modern-day amnesty.

Hypothetical Amnesty Candidates: Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard

As for the Blazers, who have several expensive contracts and are currently in the luxury tax, it could be asked, if the 2017 CBA did include an amnesty clause who would the Blazers use it on?

Evan Turner’s maligned four year-$70 million contract and Meyers Leonard’s four year-$41 million deal — both have three years remaining — seem like the most likely amnesty candidates.

Removing Turner’s contract, and the $17,131,148 owed this year, would reduce Portland’s salary to about $108.5 million for the 2017-18 season — well below the luxury tax threshold of $119.3 million. Ridding the team of Leonard’s $9,904,495 would bring the Blazers’ salary down to about $116 million.

At present, every other contract on the roster would be deemed tradeable and every cent is needed with the Blazers contemplating the re-signings of Jusuf Nurkic (most likely) and Noah Vonleh (a coin toss at the moment) next summer.

Evan Turner’s Amnesty Potential

After a slow start in Portland, Turner finished his first season with Blazers tallying averages of 9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and shot a paltry 26.3 percent on 3-pointers – all lower than his career averages.

While Turner’s contact is clearly more costly, he is very much in the rotation — a fringe starter— but without a reliable outside shot it would seem almost impossible for him to play up to his full paycheck.

Tuner, however, is a competent playmaker and defender, and from all reports a strong locker room presence. He is also the oldest and most experienced player on a fairly young and inexperienced team.

With Allen Crabbe already gone, the team is also thin on the wing. Amnestying Turner would surely require another signing to help support the already over-extended Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Maurice Harkless.

Meyers Leonard’s Amnesty Potential

Leonard, on other hand, is presently struggling to earn a fifth of his contract. One could argue that Turner has played to a better percentage of his deal than the big man from Illinois.

After a promising 2015 playoff performance, in what was a dismal team showing against the Grizzlies, Leonard has suffered through injury and what appears to be a completely shot — pardon the pun — confidence. In his 74 games played during the 2016-17 season, Leonard averaged 5.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.4 blocks and shot 34.7 percent on 3-pointers.

Given his inability to be a regular rotation player, an amnestied Leonard would have less of an impact on the team — especially with rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan as well as the expiring contract of Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu who can play power forward.

So the question is, if the Blazers had the chance to amnesty someone, would they:

  • Choose the bigger contract that would leave the larger hole on the court?
  • Or the less expensive player who last season barely contributed on the court.

Poll

Who would Portland amnesty if given the opportunity?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Evan Turner
    (677 votes)
  • 72%
    Meyers Leonard
    (1741 votes)
2418 votes total Vote Now