Much has been made of the owners' ability, in the new CBA, to waive one player and have his salary not count against the salary cap. However, it's not as if the owners will waive their most overpaid player for the good of the team.
Now, why would this happen? Because there are costs and benefits to releasing a player. Every owner knows that the minute they waive that player, that player will sign with another team for a minimum contract. If there's one thing rich billionaires hate, it's paying someone while he produces for another team. This is why guys like Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, and Mo Williams will not be released (note: if I am wrong, feel free to blast me later). For example, if the Cavaliers waive Baron Davis, who could they honestly sign with that cap space? Moreover, they are under the cap anyways (thanks, Lebron), and since the luxury tax is distributed evenly, it doesn't matter if they are $1 million or $20 million under the cap. Unless Dan Gilbert acts like an idiot and decides to overspend (again), he would realize that Davis' contract was a sunk cost, that no free agent would want to come to Cleveland unless he was overpaid, and keep Baron Davis (it helps that Davis' contract is up in two years, too).
In reality, there are only a few reasons for the owners to release a player (a sunk cost) to get cap space:
- You think you can sign a marquee free agent with the extra cap space (ex: signing Marc Gasol)
- You need to get under the cap so you don't pay as much money (ex: LA Lakers)
- The player is a cancer to the team, or has no value to other teams other than as the 13th man off the bench.
- The player is overpaid, has a long-term contract, and you are willing to sacrifice your wallet to improve your team's salary cap over the long haul. You are also willing to swallow your pride and watch that player sign with a playoff team for a minimum contract. (hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Just kidding.)
In short, the players most likely to be released are overpaid players on playoff or close to playoff teams who are either over the luxury tax or want to sign a big free agent. For teams like the Cavaliers, Wizards, and Raptors? Don't expect too much. Owners don't let money go for nothing.
For the Warriors, I'm not sure Lacob will release with Lee or Biedrins. Lee has too much money left on the deal and Lacob will not want to see him sign for a minimum contract with another team. As for Biedrins, remember that trade from the Houston Rockets that didn't go through? Lacob had the chance to dump Biedrins' contract, and he didn't. He will not want to make himself look foolish by waiving Biedrins. Most likely, it will be unused, or be used on Charlie Bell/Louis Amundson in order to pursue a free agent.
(note: this post is assuming that it is not a hard cap, but instead a harder soft cap, with a higher luxury tax)