Amnesty roundup: 18 players waived

Originally Published: May 31, 2005
ESPN.com news services

The so-called "Allan Houston Rule" failed to claim its namesake Monday.

Houston avoided being cut by the New York Knicks on the final day for NBA teams to take advantage of a one-time chance to escape luxury tax obligations for any contract on their books.

In all, teams saved more than $212 million in future tax payments by waiving 18 players.

Several teams made moves to clear tax obligations for players who left their rosters long ago. They included Alonzo Mourning (Toronto), Vin Baker (Boston), Derrick Coleman (Detroit), Wesley Person (Miami), Eddie Robinson (Chicago) and Howard Eisley (Phoenix).

Players waived between July 1 and Aug. 14 have to wait seven full days before clearing waivers, but players waived from Aug. 15 through the rest of the summer only have to wait 48 hours, which is the standard waiver window during the season.

Teams whose payrolls exceed $61.7 million for the upcoming season will have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on the overage. Among them are the Indiana Pacers, who waived retired guard Reggie Miller to save $6 million in luxury tax costs.

The one-time amnesty option was part of the six-year collective bargaining agreement agreed to earlier this summer by the league and the players' union. Under terms of the rule, players who were waived will still be paid by their former teams and cannot re-sign with them until their current contracts have expired.

Under the "tax certainty" provisions of the new labor deal, the luxury tax will be assessed each season against teams that exceed a certain payroll threshold. Under the old rules, teams did not know until a season had ended whether a luxury tax would be applied for the previous season.

The teams reaping the most savings under the amnesty rule include the Lakers ($29.7 million), Knicks ($23.1 million), 76ers ($19.5 million), Trail Blazers ($18.8 million) and Bucks ($13.2 million). The team with the smallest savings will be the Memphis Grizzlies, who relieved themselves of tax obligations for Bell's 2005-06 salary of $1.5 million.

A list of the notable amnesty casualties:

Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley's final day with the Dallas Mavericks arrived Monday, when the team waived its longtime leader and captain.

Under a one-time amnesty provision in the NBA's new labor contract, the Mavericks saved $51 million in luxury taxes over the next three years by waiving Finley, who became an unrestricted free agent.

Finley will still be guaranteed the $51 million left on his contract, plus whatever money he gets from a new team. He won't be able to re-sign with the Mavericks until his original contract expires after the 2007-08 season, when he will be 35.

Indiana Pacers: The team announced Monday it waived guard Reggie Miller, who retired last season and has one year remaining on his contract. The move will save the Pacers just over $6 million in future luxury-taxes.

"I've spoken with Reggie and he is fine with it," said Pacers CEO and President Donnie Walsh in a team statement. "This will go down as his final assist."

Miller is the Pacers' all-time leading scorer and played his entire 18-year career with the team.

New York Knicks: Team president Isiah Thomas announced Monday that forward Jerome Williams -- a k a "Junkyard Dog" -- has been waived as the designated player for the amnesty provision, and not Allan Houston as widely expected.

The Knicks will be responsible for the $21.3 million left on the remaining three years of his deal. Williams, 32, averaged 4.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 15.3 minutes in 79 games last season for New York and has career averages of 6.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 587 games for four teams.

New Jersey Nets: The team waived guard Ron Mercer on Monday and will save $1.76 million in luxury tax for next season. The Nets still must pay Mercer for this coming season, but he was not under contract beyond that.

Signed as a free agent on Aug. 12, 2004, the 29-year-old Mercer averaged just 7.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 18 games for the Nets last season. He missed 63 games due to injury, including 42 for a left knee ailment that required arthroscopic surgery on November 15.

Milwaukee Bucks: Calvin Booth will have to find a new home after the Bucks waived the center Monday. The Bucks still must pay Booth more than $13 million over the next two seasons.

Booth was acquired by Milwaukee on Feb. 24 along with Alan Henderson and an undisclosed amount of cash from Dallas for Keith Van Horn. The 29-year-old Booth averaged just 2.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.1 minutes in 17 games with the Bucks last season. In six NBA seasons, he has averaged 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 250 games.

Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers waived guard Aaron McKie on Friday. That allows the Sixers to save $19.5 million in luxury taxes on the remaining three years of his contract.

Acquired by Philadelphia on Dec. 18, 1997, from Detroit, McKie scored 4,143 points in seven-plus seasons with the Sixers and was the 2001 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award when he helped the Sixers reach the NBA Finals.

Orlando Magic: Doug Christie wanted out and he got just that as the team waived him Thursday as part of the NBA's amnesty provision. The Magic still owe Christie the $8.2 million left on the last year of his contract.

Reports out of Texas said the Mavericks have reached an oral agreement with the veteran swingman on a one-year, $3 million deal. Before Christie officially becomes a Maverick, he must wait seven days to clear waivers, according to league rules.

Los Angeles Lakers: Brian Grant, who was part of the trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat last July, was waived by the team. Grant is still owed $29.8 million on his contract.

Grant's agent, Mark Bartlestein, told ESPN.com's Marc Stein the forward plans to sign a two-year deal with the Suns later this week.

Portland Trail Blazers: Derek Anderson was the league's first player to be waived under the amnesty clause. Portland must pay Anderson the nearly $19 million for the two years remaining on his contract, but will not pay any luxury tax on the contract, which remains on the Blazers' payroll.

• Other teams that used the provision included the Wolves (Fred Hoiberg), the Grizzlies (Troy Bell) and the Rockets (Clarence Weatherspoon).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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