Among the myriad rules in the NBA's collective bargaining agreement is a stipulation that says teams that trade players can't claim those players off waivers or re-sign them until the earlier of the following two dates:
In some cases, this rule is simple to apply to practical cases. For instance, the Nets traded Mehmet Okur's expiring contract to Portland last March at the trade deadline, and the Blazers waived Okur shortly thereafter. Because Okur's deal was set to expire at season's end, he was ineligible to re-sign with the Nets during last season, but regained that ability as of July 1st, when his contract expired.
Other cases are trickier, however. For example, Derek Fisher was traded to the Rockets by the Lakers last March 15th, and was bought out by the Rockets shortly thereafter. Fisher had a player option on his contract for 2012/13, which raises the question: When exactly is his contract considered to be "over"? In his CBA FAQ, salary cap expert Larry Coon provides an answer:
Fisher's option wasn't an ETO, so the June 30th before his option year should be considered the "end" of his contract, making him eligible to sign with the Lakers beginning in July, right? Well, not quite.
As confirmed by Coon, Fisher's player option for 2012/13 actually was exercised when he worked out his buyout with the Rockets, allowing the team to split his buyout amount in half between the 2011/12 and '12/13 seasons. That means Fisher is still on the Rockets' books for this season, and his contract isn't considered to be over until next June 30th. As such, the earliest date he can re-sign with the Lakers is March 15th, 2013, a year after the trade.
Since players acquired in trades generally aren't waived immediately, this situation doesn't arise all that often. And many of the players who found themselves in such a position have since signed with other teams -- for instance, Josh Harrellson was ineligible to rejoin the Knicks after being waived by the Rockets, but ended up signing with the Heat.
By my count, the eight players listed below, plus Fisher, comprise the group of NBA free agents who are currently ineligible to sign with a specific team, but feel free to contact us if there are any I've missed.
Note: Players who were waived via the amnesty clause are also ineligible to re-sign with their old teams until the amnestied contract expires.
Let's round up a few items out of the Southwest, which was the NBA's second biggest-spending division in free agency this summer, as we outlined earlier today.
The Sixers have waived center Darryl Watkins, tweets SI's Sam Amick. Philadelphia acquired Watkins as a throw-in in their trade for swingman Dorell Wright, but after then signing Kwame Brown the team apparently had no need for him. The 27-year-old Syracuse product had only played in 14 NBA games and will now become a free agent looking to latch on with another team.
9:26pm: The deal has been finalized, according to a press release by the Warriors. The Warriors receive Jack from New Orleans, the Sixers receive Wright from Golden State and center Darryl Watkins from New Orleans, and the Hornets receive the rights to Bavcic from Philadelphia.
2:35pm: Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group reports that the deal is getting close, but cautions that it's "fragile" and could fall apart. Still, Jack himself seems to acknowledge he'll be moved, tweeting: "Well new Orleans it's been real like to thank all the fans u treated me great during my time as a hornet. #movingon."
WEDNESDAY, 2:17pm: The Hornets have entered the deal, making it a three-way swap. New Orleans will send Jarrett Jack to Golden State, and will receive the rights to Bavcic, reports ESPN.com's Marc Stein (Twitter links). As such, the Warriors will no longer receive a trade exception for Wright.
TUESDAY, 7:08pm: The Warriors will receive Bavcic and a $4.1MM trade exception for Wright, tweets Steinmetz.
5:50pm: The Sixers have agreed to acquire Dorell Wright from the Warriors in exchange for a prior draft pick currently playing overseas, according to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). The mystery player involved in the trade is likely Edin Bavcic, whose rights were acquired by the Sixers from the Raptors in 2006, writes Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com. The move can be made official when the moratorium ends later tonight.
For Philadelphia, the team will absorb Wright and his $4MM expiring contract into the cap space they'll create by amnestying Elton Brand. Still, considering the Sixers already have Andre Iguodala established at small forward and drafted another wing in Maurice Harkless, the acquisition is a little puzzling.
The Warriors, meanwhile, clear a huge $4MM from their books, creating the flexibility to perhaps use their full $5MM mid-level exception for a free agent, rather than just the $3.09MM taxpayer MLE. Look for Golden State to use its new found financial freedom to pursue frontline help, a backup point guard and veteran scorer off the bench, writes Thompson.
Head coach Mark Jackson's staff wanted to upgrade from Wright at small forward and the Warriors front office agreed that a change was necessary, tweets Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Wright averaged 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Warriors in 27 minutes per game.
Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com first reported that the Sixers would acquire Wright from the Warriors.
The Hornets have signed Darryl Watkins to a 10-day contract and waived Chris Johnson, according to Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com (via Twitter). John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported earlier today that the injury-ravaged Hornets were expected to replace Johnson with another big man.
Watkins, 27, only played nine regular-season games in his NBA career, way back in the 2007/08 season with the Kings. He has received training-camp invites from a few teams, including the Hornets in 2010. In recent seasons, Watkins has played in the D-League and in various leagues overseas. With less than 10 days remaining in the regular season, The Syracuse product will be eligible for the rest of the Hornets' games, with Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor out of the lineup with injuries.
Johnson was released by the Trail Blazers along with Greg Oden at the trade deadline to make room for Portland's incoming players. The Hornets claimed Johnson off waivers, but the big man appeared in just seven games for New Orleans before suffering a concussion on April 1st. He hasn't played since.
As Hoops Rumors' 10-day contract tracker shows, Watkins is the sixth player to receive at least one 10-day contract from the Hornets this season.