[T]he amnesty clause (that we're having to pretend will exist here, but which almost certainly will exist in some form) will further expand the range of available talents. A lot of decent players are going to become available, not because they can't play the game, but because they can't justify their contract. A lot of the candidates are obvious and inevitable, some perhaps less so. Here's a potential list:
- Detroit: Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva - Joe Dumas's plan for the new-look Pistons appeared to be piling as many duplicate players onto a roster as possible, and hopefully overpaying them in the process. Didn't work. Hamilton and Gordon have been busy killing each other's value, value further killed by the helpful guiding hand of recently fired John Kuester, who had absolutely no idea what to do with any of them. Maxiell is coming off an absolutely terrible season in which, seemingly awash with apathy, he decided to no longer attempt rebounding and sported a PER of 9.4. And Newhouse has taken the rebounding apathy even further, sporting a lower rebounding percentage than Landry Fields last season and wasting a decent start by slowly electing to do little else but take three pointers.17 The four are owed a combined $96,380,000 over the next three seasons, are barely tradeable, and are barely helping Detroit. Pick your poison.
The Chicago Bulls, a large market team that chooses to operate in the belief that it is not, paid the luxury tax for the first time last season. They had positioned themselves to do so with moves made long before Derrick Rose tore his ACL, notably with the signing of Carlos Boozer, but also with the signing of Rip Hamilton. You don't sign Rip Hamilton to a deal paying $5 million annually when you are already up against the luxury tax threshold unless you are prepared to pay a bit of tax. And while Hamilton was never going to be the final piece, he was supposed to be one of the final pieces. Any team armed with an MVP surely has an obligation to make a title push, and the Bulls were doing so.
Of course, as we now know, it did not work out. Rose got injured, Hamilton aged quickly, and the Bulls went back to the feisty underdog identity of the early Scott Skiles era in lieu of having the talent to be competitive. They fired their bullet at a time that would take advantage of the primes or near-primes of Boozer, Hamilton, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, rather than waiting for Rose to hit his own. Yet now because of the unforeseen injuries, it was all for nought, and they have wasted their long-awaited bullet on nothing but two seasons of mere decency.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.