BSotS Required Reading: How the Amnesty Provision Works

The world is full of things we may never fully comprehend, questions we may never know the answers to...

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Why doesn't "onomatopoeia" sound like what it is?

Likewise, basketball is littered with conundrums and recondite principles that frustrate and befuddle fans everywhere...

Why does a player have to earn free throws from the charity stripe - why not just call them foul shots? How exactly do referees determine what is and isn't a travel? What precisely is the nature of David Stern's affiliation with Satan?

Then, there's the focus of this discourse - the amnesty provision. This topic has created a firestorm of flummery, a cornucopia of confusion, a mélange of misinformation...

With the free agent period creeping closer, it seems logical that the amnesty provision may be mentioned once or twice. I will attempt to bring some clarity and resolution to the what, when, and why of this subject to stem the tide of factual rifts it seems to procreate.

Catapult yourselves forward without delay for a crash course on all that is amnesty...

If not now, then when?

Credit for the factual basis of this article goes to Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ. The amnesty provision is the subject of question #67 and can be viewed here (


The amnesty can be used one time by a team to clear a contract from their salary so that it no longer counts against that team's cap number. In order to use the amnesty provision on a player he must have been on the team's roster continuously under a contract that started on or before July 1, 2011. Team's cannot amnesty players they signed, received in trades, extended, etc. after July 1, 2011.


The amnesty provision can only be used during the first 7 days following the July Moratorium. The July Moratorium is a period at the beginning of July each year when the league conducts their annual audit and sets the salary cap. Although players become free agents on July 1st, most free agent signings are not permitted until after the July Moratorium. Here is a list of the dates for the July Moratoriums under the new CBA:


July Moratorium

Players may be signed beginning


July 1-10, 2012

July 11, 2012


July 1-9, 2013

July 10, 2013


July 1-9, 2014

July 10, 2014


July 1-8, 2015

July 9, 2015


July 1-11, 2016

July 12, 2016


July 1-11, 2017

July 12, 2017


July 1-10, 2018

July 11, 2018


July 1-9, 2019

July 10, 2019


July 1-8, 2020

July 9, 2020

Based on this information, the only time the Suns can invoke the amnesty provision for the upcoming season is from July 11th - 17th, 2012.


To clear cap space, free up a roster space, and use those to get a new player that will help the team.

The amnesty provision is not a get out of jail free card. It is a way to choose a self-imposed financial punishment to atone for a past discretion. The player's contract falls off the team's salary cap, but not off its payroll. The team still has to pay the player.

For instance, if the Suns keep Childress and spend up to the cap (let's assume $61 million) this summer, their cap number and payroll will both be $61 million. If the Suns choose to use the amnesty on Childress (between the 11th and 17th of July), their cap number would still be $61 million, but the payroll would escalate to $67.5 million.

In all, using the amnesty on Childress could cost the Suns (Sarver) up to $21 million in completely elective spending.

Why would the Suns use the amnesty during the window this summer? It would likely take a very strong incentive. They aren't going to use it just to use it, there will have to be a deal on the table where the gain in terms of basketball outweighs the loss in terms of money.

Why would the Suns save their amnesty another year? If there isn't an ideal scenario this summer, the Suns could actually pocket their amnesty until next year and use it, combined with Warrick's expiring deal, to create over $11 million in cap space in July 2013. Not using the amnesty might actually allow them to maintain flexibility and pursue free agents and one sided trades next offseason.

Hopefully these shed light on why using the amnesty at 12:01 am July 11th may not be the most prudent course of action.


- Teams can only use the amnesty on players who have been on the team under contract since July 1, 2011.

- Teams can only use the amnesty during the week following the July Moratorium (July 11-17 this year).

- There is a financial drawback associated with the amnesty - there's no such thing as a free lunch (unless you're Seth and get yummy sandwiches from the Suns).

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