Could Nets --or Knicks-- acquire Metta World Peace through amnesty?

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Ding of the Orange Country Register reported Monday that the Lakers will amnesty Metta World Peace, aka Ron Artest, later this week, saving them up to $30 million and giving teams a chance at a 33-year-old player who while controversial and mercurial can still produce.

Word from both Jared Zwerling and Sam Amick is that the Knicks are his top priority with the Nets not far behind, but for MWP to wind up in his hometown of New York would require a series of events that would get through a complicated blind auction and into free agent. Then, he would have to be willing to sign for the vets minimum, assuming New York or Brooklyn want him.

Under terms of the new CBA, a player waived under the amnesty clause must go through the waiver process, which lasts 48 hours. During that time, a team with cap enough space can claim an amnestied player by making a full waiver claim and assuming the player's full contract. That is highly unlikely in World Peace's case. He is owed $7.7 million next season. Few teams have that kind of cap space. Of course, MWP could try to scare off teams by claiming he will retire unless he gets what he wants. A friend told Zwerling that might indeed be his strategy.

If no full waiver claims are submitted, partial waiver claims will then be reviewed. It is essentially a blind auction, in which bidding teams don't know how much others are putting up. Teams can bid as much or as little as they want as long as they have enough room under the salary cap. The Clippers bid $2 million on Chauncey Billups two years ago, a fraction of the $14 million he was owed. The Kings bid $3 million a year on Travis Outlaw's $7 million per year contract. In each case, the team had sufficient cap space. The Nets have no cap space. Nor do the Knicks. So they can't bid.

Under the CBA, once the 48 hour waiver window is complete, the team with the highest bid wins and is awarded the player. If multiple teams bid the same amount, the team with the worst record is awarded the player. There is no negotiation. The player must go to the team that submitted. He will continue to be paid at his contract rate.

How likely is that MWP, a player who averaged 12.4 points and five rebounds in 75 games, will get through the auction without a bid? No one knows but five of the 15 players already amnestied were picked up through the bidding process. If there is a bidder, the amount of money owed by the Lakers will be reduced by the amount paid by his new team. He gets paid no matter what.

If no team bids on MWP, then he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team as long as they have cap space or an exception. For the Nets, that means the vets minimum since most of the mini-MLE is going to be used to sign Bojan Bogdanovic. A league source tells NetsDaily that signing is "still set." IF the Nets and Knicks were both interested in signing MWP and IF he was interested in returning to his hometown to New York, the Knicks might have a small advantage: they still have $1.75 million left in their mini-MLE. That would increase MWP's take-home pay, amnesty and mini-MLE combined, by a small amount since that final figure is based on a complicated formula, but the number would be no more than low six figures.

Last July, the Nets signed two players, Andray Blatche and Josh Childress, to non-guaranteed vets minimum deals after they went through the blind auction and received no bids. Childress was cut in December after a lackluster couple of months with the team while Blatche went to to average 10 and 5 and finish in the top 15 of PER.

So, assuming the Nets wanted MWP, they would still need some luck to even get to the point where they could offer him the vets minimum. The big question is whether the Nets would want him. He brings toughness, of course, but any more so than Kevin Garnett? Would they even get along? He would cost them four times the vets minimum, nearly $4 million because of the progressive luxury tax. More significantly, he has proven an embarrassment over the years, starting with "Malice at the Palace." And there's the issue of what he has left. His game is in decline and in the playoffs, had to have a cyst behind his knee drained. Will he require surgery?

We will know soon enough. The Lakers can amnesty him as early as Wednesday, meaning he could be a free agent --or on another team-- by Friday.

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