Now that the 2019 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, attention shifts to the buyout market for potential free agents.
This year’s buyout pool could be deeper than usual, with several interesting candidates potentially becoming free agents. In order to be playoff eligible, players must be waived or bought out by March 1. It doesn’t matter when the player signs with a new team. As long as a player is on the market prior to March 1, they could even sign on the last day of the season and still be playoff eligible.
The main difference between waiving a player and buying out their contract is that when you waive a player, their full salary for that year is counted toward the payroll. When a player agrees to a buyout, however, he is agreeing to surrender a little money left on the deal — helping the team lower payroll.
In addition to the players mentioned below, there are several other players on the market who were waived or released. The biggest name here is Carmelo Anthony, who may end up with the Los Angeles Lakers. Others are Enes Kanter, Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, Milos Teodosic and Greg Monroe.
We will continue to update this list with more players as the transactions are made.
Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls (Big)
Now in his third season with the team, 30-year-old big man Robin Lopez has more than likely played his last game for the Chicago Bulls. His playing time has dwindled to less than 17.0 minutes per game after averaging at least 26.0 minutes an appearance for each of the previous six seasons.
Even though Chicago has typically been reluctant to buy out contracts for their players in the past, perhaps they would make an exception for Lopez after not finding a trade partner. Lopez was involved in a “chippy” practice, including a near altercation with Kris Dunn.
Wesley Matthews, New York Knicks (Wing)
Wesley Matthews, who like Jordan came to New York from the Dallas Mavericks, has already appeared in the starting lineup for the Knicks.
The Golden State Warriors are “looming large” as a potential destination for the Matthews. The Philadelphia 76ers have also reportedly inquired about Matthews, though a trade would be tough after the franchise moved so many assets to land Tobias Harris.
Other teams linked to the NBA veteran include the Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder. But the Indiana Pacers were considered the early favorites the 3-and-D wing, per Shams Charania.
Author’s Note: The Pacers agreed to sign Matthews, as reported by The Athletic at 3:21 PM EST on February 7.
Wayne Ellington, Phoenix Suns (Wing)
After being traded from the Miami Heat to the Phoenix Suns, seasoned wing Wayne Ellington will likely get a buyout and enter the open market. He has connected on 38.0 percent of his three-point shots during his career.
Ellington has been able to score well on catch-and-shoot opportunities and he can create his own shot as well. He ranked Top 10 in the East for total points scored on jump shots last season, per Synergy. Only three players in his conference (minimum: 100 opportunities) were more efficient on jump shots off the dribble.
Most important: the NBA veteran scored more points on dribble handoffs than any other player in the league. Only the Heat (where Ellington currently plays) have run more DHO’s than the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the teams that will pursue Ellington if he is bought out. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers were also linked to Ellington back in December and the 76ers also have reported interest. The Boston Celtics could get involved, too.
With that said, the Detroit Pistons have actually emerged as early favorites.
Author’s Note: The Phoenix Suns have waived Ellington, as reported by ArizonaSports.com at 4:49 PM EST on February 7.
Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs (Big)
His younger brother Marc Gasol will join a new team, leaving the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time in his career. But the two-time NBA champion and six-time Western Conference All-Star Pau Gasol could also be on the move after the 2019 NBA trade deadline.
While the big man could be a strong locker room presence, a trade was always unlikely for the San Antonio Spurs considering his cumbersome contract was tough to match. Plus, it was hard to imagine a team offering much for someone who has played just 13 minutes per game this season.
Gasol is guaranteed at $6.7 million for next season if he is waived, which is a significant reduction from the $16 million that he would have otherwise been owed. Collin Reid explained this in detail (via Project Spurs):
“Under the current CBA, trading a player with a partial guarantee for the following season is more difficult now. This is because the guaranteed portion of the contract will be used as the outgoing salary in the trade, but the entire salary, including the non-guaranteed portion, will be calculated in the incoming salary for the team receiving Gasol. Since Gasol’s full salary for the 2019-2020 season is $16 million but his guaranteed portion is only $6.7 million according to ESPN, matching salaries in a deal that includes Gasol will be challenging unless a team has $16 million in cap space to avoid having to match salaries.”
Despite their desire to get his contract off the books, San Antonio would have likely had to attach an asset to move him in a trade. Instead, it makes sense to keep the asset and simply waive the veteran before his guarantee date of July 1, 2019.
Overall, it is doubtful Gasol is bought out unless he requests it. But it would be fairly unprecedented with guaranteed money and no likely suitors.
Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies (Wing)
After signing a massive contract with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2016 offseason, his tenure with the organization reached a bitter end in December. Chandler Parsons was cleared to return to basketball activities, but Memphis decided against playing him.
He left the organization to continue his rehabilitation in California when the two sides could not agree on a G League assignment, per Woj. NBA skills coach Drew Hanlen recently revealed on The HoopsHype Podcast that he’s been working with Parsons as he attempts his comeback. It was not at all surprising that the Grizzlies could not find a trade partner for Parsons, as he is still owed $38 million through next season.
The 30-year-old has said in the past that he would be willing to return to the Houston Rockets, where he played to start his career from 2011 until 2014. However, a buyout would be unusual unless he is willing to leave a lot of money on the table.
Author’s Note: The Grizzlies plan to bring Parsons back to the team, via The Athletic.
Zach Randolph, Dallas Mavericks (Big)
Even though Zach Randolph is likely past the point of playing meaningful minutes, his experience as a leader could be valuable to a playoff organization.
Randolph has played 70 postseason games, making the playoffs nine times during his career. When he is on the court, expect the power forward to still be able to make an impact crashing the boards.
Some have hoped for a reunion between Randolph and Memphis if he is bought out so that he could retire as a member of the Grizzlies, but that is considered highly unlikely.
Expect him to land with a contender if a team believes he is still in good enough shape to compete. Considering his last professional game was in March of 2018 and he is 37 years old, that is no sure thing.
Author’s Note: The Mavericks will waive Randolph, as reported by The Athletic at 4:19 PM EST on February 7.
JR Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers (Wing)
The 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has not played since November of 2018 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent him home. Smith, now 33 years old, is an above average shooter that may help a contender. The Houston Rockets have shown legitimate interest in adding Smith.
But the 2016 NBA champion averaged just a touch above 10.0 points per game during his five-year stretch with the Cavaliers. He is no longer a key contributor, especially considering he put up those numbers in 29.3 minutes per game while in Cleveland.
For what it’s worth, Smith has a deal ushered in from the previous collective bargaining agreement. It states that he has a real non-guaranteed deal, which could be a very valuable trade chip.
Another team can essentially trade for him at his whole value but cut him for less. But the Cavaliers gain nothing just by cutting him loose, which is why it is unlikely they’ll buy him out. Of course, anything can happen in #ThisLeague right now.
Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets (Big)
The Charlotte Hornets were not able to find a home for 25-year-old big man Frank Kaminsky. During his professional career, he started just 23 games in 259 appearances.
While he was praised for being a sharpshooting prospect before the draft, Kaminsky never materialized as a three-point shooter in the NBA. He is shooting 34.7 percent from beyond the arc and has been below average for his position three out of his four years in Charlotte, per Cleaning the Glass.
Kaminsky most often finishes offensive possessions as a spot-up shooter. But he has not been effective on this play type, averaging 0.81 PPP when spotting up. That ranks in the 18th percentile among all players in the league.
Markieff Morris, New Orleans Pelicans (Big)
Markieff Morris would be a particularly intriguing fit for the Boston Celtics considering his twin brother Marcus is on the team. They were college teammates at Kansas and played together on the Phoenix Suns as well.
Morris is expected to miss six weeks with a neck injury suffered on January 3. Assuming he will be released by the Pelicans, Morris will be postseason eligible as long as he signs his next contract by the final day of the regular season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in signing the Klutch Sports client,
Author’s Note: The Pelicans will release Morris, as reported by The Athletic at 8:06 PM EST on February 7.
DeAndre Jordan, New York Knicks (Big)
Early reporting indicates that Jordan, 30, will stay with the organization rather than negotiate a contract buyout. But he is likely going to be too expensive to be a part of the team’s long-term plans.
Jordan has taken the court for the Knicks and in the short-term can fill a mentor role for young New York players, including rookie Mitchell Robinson. The front office reportedly plans to keep him in the fold.
It’s also worth noting that the Knicks’ brass know how friendly Jordan is with soon-to-be-free-agent Kevin Durant. Jordan could potentially help New York recruit the coveted forward.
Perhaps the former Team USA teammates can play together in the frontcourt if Jordan is willing to take less money in the offseason. If not, however, the Knicks can change their mind and make him a possible buyout candidate, considering that New York is not in the business of winning. Jordan is still easily one of the best rebounders in the league.
The big man has expressed interest in playing for his hometown Houston Rockets, though they recently picked up Kenneth Faried for depth in the frontcourt. There is reportedly some buzz about him joining the Los Angeles Lakers during the upcoming offseason, though that may wait until summer.
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