The Washington Wizards will not be using the amnesty clause on Rashard Lewis once the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is complete, according to Lewis' agent.
For those not caught up in the legal red tape that is the CBA, the amnesty clause gives NBA teams the opportunity to waive one player from their roster and not have his salary count against their cap. With many teams over the cap, the clause helps because the release of a player helps the team avoid paying the luxury tax.
When the clause was announced, many believed Lewis would be waived given his $21 million salary. So why are the Wizards not releasing him?
There are a couple of reasons. For one, the team is under the salary cap so there isn't a danger of having to pay the luxury tax. They can afford to keep Lewis on the roster.
Second, While getting rid of his $21 million for this season would be helpful in signing other free agents, the crop of available players this offseason is significantly diluted when compared to years past.
Tyson Chandler? Nene? Those are two of the top free agents available, so from a fiscal standpoint, it doesn't make sense to rid the team of Lewis and his expiring deal to bring on an above average player for more years and more dollars in the long term.
Lastly, Lewis' expiring $21 million will be an attractive trade bargaining chip in favor of the Wizards. There will be plenty of teams looking to get under the cap, or to simply free up cap space, and make a potential run at high prized free agents like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard. Washington should be able to continue its rebuild by acquiring young and relatively inexpensive building blocks to surround John Wall by moving Lewis' contract later in the season.
Remember - acquiring Lewis in the Gilbert Arenas trade wasn't done to make him a staple part of the franchise. It was to shave off a year of having to pay Arenas, and be one year closer to rebuilding the team the way owner Ted Leonsis visions it. Not using the amnesty clause fits that plan.