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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sixers Should Use Reported Amnesty Clause on Iguodala

          Despite a lot of talk from the owners about competitive balance and roster flexibility, the end of the NBA lockout proved that it was all about money.

          Shocking, I know.

          Until today I hadn’t read one article that offered details of the new collective bargaining agreement giving teams more flexibility to improve their rosters. The closest the players and owners seem to have come was the much discussed “amnesty clause.”

          According to an article by John Smallwood in the Daily News today, the amnesty clause survived the final negotiations. Details have been difficult to ascertain with the agreement coming over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but this is apparently the crumb fans got from the end of the lockout.

          The clause gives teams a one-time opportunity to ax a player and not have to count his salary against the salary cap. For the Sixers, that player absolutely has to be Andre Iguodala.

          Smallwood suggested making Elton Brand the guy the Sixers cut and trading Iguodala. I just don’t see any team taking Iguodala, and I actually don’t see Brand as the dead weight others do. He’s probably overpaid for his age and his value to a team that isn’t even going to contend for a title for at least two years. But by the end of last season he had started to show signs of being recovered from the Achilles injury that he suffered the season prior to signing with the Sixers.

          Iguodala is the same player he’s always been. He’s a complimentary player who is paid like a top tier player. The same can be said at this point about Brand, and I’m not suggesting Brand has the potential to blossom into much more if I’m right about his injury.

          The differences are that Iguodala basically became the focal point of an era in which the Sixers were doormats of the league and what he brings to a team is easier to replace. Cutting him removes the biggest remnant of that time from the team and the minds of fans. I’m thrilled with Doug Collins as the head coach, but I think he deferred too much to Iguodala in key spots last season as the team showed signs of improvement.

          Iguodala is in the way of finding out what others can do. I thought they should have been allowing Thaddeus Young to fill the role that they were giving to Iguodala. Clearly Collins disagreed, saying Young was useful in 10 to 15 minute spurts. Young took a step backwards under Collins.

          But even if Young isn’t the guy to do it, I still think Iguodala is very replaceable. He’s a slasher with a poor jump shot. The NBA is littered with players like that.

          Overall, I think the owners buckled in negotiations, and I’m not quite sure why. Clearly, with the season starting on Christmas – the same day ABC airs its first game – the television contract was a concern, though reports said that owners were getting paid from that contract regardless of whether or not there was a season. This league desperately needed a hard salary cap and the ability to cut players instead of having teams stuck with guaranteed contracts. I understand that the deal reduces players salaries in various ways, but that doesn’t help fans.

          Hopefully, the Sixers won’t waste the one morsel from the lockout fans can enjoy.

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