The Cleveland Cavaliers have still not decided whether they will use the amnesty provision on guard Baron Davis, according to a league source. Davis is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $13.9 million this season. Teams have until Friday to utilize the amnesty provision for this season. Waiving a player via amnesty allows that player’s salary to be removed from both a team’s salary cap and luxury tax thresholds, creating cap room that can be used on other players or potentially getting a team underneath the $70 million tax threshold.
The Cavaliers acquired Davis from the Clippers at the trade deadline last February in a deal that sent guard Mo Williams to Los Angeles and brought Davis and a number one Draft pick to Cleveland.
That pick wound up being the first overall pick in last June’s Draft after the Cavs won the Draft Lottery in May. Cleveland selected Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving with the pick, then used its own first-rounder to take Texas forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall selection.
Cleveland is exploring all options for the 32-year-old Davis, including a contract buyout that would give Davis his freedom right away — and the ability to sign with any team he wants — while saving the team money on the cap. (Players who are waived via amnesty go into a pool, and must report to the team that submits the highest bid for them, as the Clippers did Monday with Chauncey Billups.) Davis’ expiring contract could also be used in a trade to bring back assets, and the Cavs have another candidate on their roster that could potentially be amnestied — veteran forward Antawn Jamison, who is scheduled to make $15 million in the final year of his contract this season. But the Cavs, in full rebuilding mode, can just let the contracts of both Davis and Jamison expire next summer and clear them off the books, freeing a huge amount of cap space that would make Cleveland a potential player for trades or free agent signings.
Complicating matters is the fact that Davis has been out of camp with a bad back that may force him to miss an extended period of time. He was in the process of getting a second opinion on Tuesday.
Davis’ agent, Todd Ramasar, said Tuesday afternoon that the guard will accept any decision from the Cavaliers as long as it comes quickly.
“A lot of people expected Baron wouldn’t report when he was traded,” Ramasar said. “He was a professional. He was totally supportive of the organization when they drafted Kyrie. He reached out to Kyrie. He did everything you could expect someone to do in terms of the community last year. He came in and tried to lead the team and they were playing better at the end of the season.”
If Davis is waived via amnesty, capped-out teams like the Knicks and Heat could only sign him if no other team claimed him out of the amnesty pool. CBSSports.com reported Monday that Davis was “likely” to sign with the Knicks if he wasn’t claimed out of the amnesty pool.