The NBA has toyed with an amnesty clause before. Back in 2005, teams were allowed to waive one player with the clause but had to pay the player and the contract still counted against the salary cap. What teams got out of the move was that the salary figure no longer counted in luxury tax calculations which saved many owners millions of dollars.
Fast forward to 2011 and the upcoming CBA negotiations. While the owners have proposed a hard salary cap that is significantly less than the cap number that is currently in use, the league would probably have to incorporate some sort of amnesty clause once again to make that scenario work. The rumored clause would allow a team to waive a player and have that player's contract come off their salary cap total. However, the team would still be responsible for paying the player the contract in full.
As I wrote a few days ago, Atlanta fans might rejoice at the notion of the team amnesty-ing its way out of the $107 million it will owe Joe Johnson over the next five seasons. But that’s unrealistic because the amnesty proposal would still require teams to pay the waived player. Johnson might be overpaid, but he’s still productive, and a team with a recent history of dodging the luxury tax is not going to shell out $107 million just to get Johnson off its cap figure. That leaves Marvin Williams, who is set to make about $25 million over the next three seasons.
To summarize, forget about using the amnesty clause on the Johnson contract. There isn't much of a chance that the Atlanta Spirit or a potential buyer is going to hand out over $100 million dollars to a player that isn't even on the roster.