The Cavs claimed A.J. Price off waivers this past weekend, but the overwhelming majority of the players who hit NBA waivers go unclaimed during the two-day period that teams have to submit claims. What makes those players expendable for one team usually keeps others from grabbing them, be it inadequate performance, an unwieldy salary, or some combination of the two. Players whom teams waive chiefly for financial reasons are often picked up by other clubs who sign them to cheaper deals shortly after they hit free agency, as their new teams benefit from more team-friendly financial terms than a waiver claim would entail. Any player whom a team claims off waivers continues on his contract as though his old team had never waived him, so there’s often a financial disincentive for teams to submit claims.
Still, nine players have been claimed off waivers since the end of last season, counting Carlos Boozer, whom the Lakers received through amnesty waivers. Most were on minimum-salary contracts with little or no guaranteed money, as we detail in a look at each of those nine:
- Carlos Boozer (amnesty waivers): Bulls to Lakers — Teams can submit bids for only part of a player’s salary through amnesty waivers, unlike conventional waivers, and the Lakers took advantage. They wound up with Boozer at a fraction of his $16.8MM salary and will pay him just $3.251MM this season, the last that his contract covers. He’s receiving the rest from the Bulls as he racks up 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game for a depleted Lakers team.
- Earl Clark: Grizzlies to Rockets — The Rockets appear to have made the move solely to obtain Clark’s D-League rights, since Houston waived him just a few days after claiming his non-guaranteed deal. He’s putting up 28.8 PPG and 7.3 RPG for the Rockets D-League affiliate, but he’s reportedly poised to join the Lakers.
- Jarell Eddie: Hawks to Celtics — It’s tough to see just why the C’s claimed Eddie in the final week of the preseason only to waive him shortly thereafter. Unlike the Rockets and Clark, Boston didn’t keep Eddie’s D-League rights, and he’s playing for the Spurs affiliate instead. Regardless, Eddie’s deal was non-guaranteed, so the only cost to the Celtics was the $1K waiver fee.
- Willie Green: Clippers to Magic — The Clippers planned to re-sign Green after they waived him rather than guaranteeing his minimum salary, but the Magic, with plenty of cap space, didn’t mind picking up the tab for him, foiling L.A.’s plan.
- Jordan Hamilton: Raptors to Jazz — The Jazz absorbed a $25K partial guarantee to take on a player who’d performed well in camp for the Raptors, who didn’t have room to keep him into the regular season. Utah soon found it didn’t have much use for Hamilton, either, waiving him about a week later. He’s currently playing with the Grizzlies D-League affiliate.
- Joe Ingles: Clippers to Jazz — Utah has carved out a much greater role for its other waiver claim, though Ingles is only averaging 2.8 PPG in 18.2 MPG on his non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract. Still, the Clippers were stymied again, as they planned to re-sign Ingles after waiving him, just as with Green.
- Chris Johnson: Celtics to Sixers — Philadelphia afforded itself a low-risk opportunity to look at the swingman from Dayton, who’s not to be confused with the former LSU center by the same name who was in camp with the Heat. Johnson’s stint with the Sixers lasted only a month and a half, as Philly waived his non-guaranteed minimum-salary deal about two weeks into the regular season.
- Kendall Marshall: Lakers to Bucks — This was a case of one waiver claim leading to another. The Lakers had to let go of Marshall’s non-guaranteed minimum salary to clear the cap space necessary to finalize a few of their agreements after committing $3.251MM to claim Boozer. Milwaukee made the unusual move of guaranteeing Marshall’s salary for the season, even though he’s seeing only 13.0 MPG this year after averaging 8.8 assists per game in 29.0 MPG for the Lakers last season.
- A.J. Price: Pacers to Cavaliers — Price was impressive enough during his stint with the Pacers last month to convince the Cavs to reverse their decision from the first week of the season to sign Will Cherry and waive Price. Cleveland released Cherry to bring back Price this time around.