The trade deadline is over and now another transactional process begins — buyout season, when teams can enhance their rosters for this season and beyond with newly-available free agents.
For obvious reasons, these free agents are mainly discounts, players who were unwanted by their current teams but could still contribute.
It’s a chance for contenders, especially, to grab a bargain who might make a difference in the postseason. One of the best examples is Peja Stojakovic, the ex-Kings sharpshooter who found a new home in Dallas and helped the Mavericks win their only title in 2011.
There’s a catch, though. The labor agreement isn’t so sign-friendly anymore.
Teams above the first tax apron can’t sign players whose previous salary was more than $12.4 million, which applies to the Heat, Nuggets, Warriors, Celtics, Suns, Clippers and Bucks.
March 1 is the final day a player can be waived by one team and remain eligible to play in the postseason for another. Here’s a group of candidates who have either been bought out or released — or might soon meet one of those fates in the coming weeks:
1. Davis Bertans, Charlotte Hornets
Much like Harris, Bertans became unplayable when he stopped hitting 3s. That’s when he was impossible to hide on the floor because he couldn’t defend and lacked a mid-range game. Still, someone might take a chance if he’s released.
2. Seth Curry, Charlotte Hornets
Much like Fournier, Curry brings a shooter’s presence but is well past his peak in that department, and he was never a skillful ballhandler to begin with. Charlotte may keep him — he did grow up in the city. If not, a team that can hide his deficiencies might find Curry useful off the bench.
3. Evan Fournier, Detroit Pistons
He was a starter for the Knicks just two years ago and then swiftly fell out of favor, mainly because of his lack of defense. He has barely touched the court since. If nothing else, Fournier has plenty of energy. And maybe, with a strong defensive team that needs scoring (such as the Timberwolves), Fournier can become a useful tool should he be released.
4. Danilo Gallinari, Free agent
Injuries and age have sapped the 35-year-old’s skills, so at this point, he’s only effective in small bursts and with limited playing time. Still, after being released by Detroit, he can space the floor and would be useful for a contender craving a distance shooter.
5. Joe Harris, Free agent
At one point, before all the injuries, he was one of the game’s most dependable long-range shooters. But he has played only one full season since 2021, and one-dimensional players are stuck when that dimension goes sour. Detroit waived him and the demand for him might be mild.
6. Killian Hayes, Free agent
The No. 7 pick in 2020 is just 22, which gives him the benefit of the doubt. Can he still grow as a player? Perhaps. He started 31 games this season, and before releasing him the Pistons gave the combo guard ample chances. His poor shooting doomed him. Anyway, someone will take a chance, of which Hayes will start running out if he doesn’t ace his next test or two.
7. Cory Joseph, Free agent
He’s still a quick-and-clever point guard who has backup potential. That said, there isn’t much of a demand right now at that position. If something opens for him after being released by Golden State, however, he’ll get the first call.
8. Furkan Korkmaz, Free agent
Just a few years ago he was a valuable rotational player for the Sixers. But he’s a prime example that life comes at you fast in this league. It’s all about right place, right fit, and he still has value after being released by Indiana.
9. Marcus Morris, San Antonio Spurs
There’s probably a little left in the tank of this enforcer who just a few years ago was a solid starter for the Clippers. He’s a solid catch-and-shoot specialist, although that’s part of the problem. Morris lacks an off-the-dribble or inside game and isn’t a strong rebounder (4.5 lifetime average).
10. Thaddeus Young, Free agent
Aging, but gracefully, Young remains an athletic forward who brings seasoning and knows his limitations. Brooklyn will reportedly release him, so he’s available. For those teams seeking depth on the front line, there are certainly worse options than Young, a career 50% shooter.
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