Former Cavaliers power forward Samardo Samuels has signed with Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem, David Pick of Eurobasket reports. The move had appeared close since earlier this week. Samardo's deal will cover two months and pay him $50K, excluding any extra cash he may earn with the team in postseason play. That pales in comparison to the $356,833 worth of prorated minimum salary he garnered for a partial season in the NBA with Cleveland this year.
The Cavs waived Samuels in January, right before his contract would have become fully guaranteed for the season. He was in the third year of a deal he signed with the team after going undrafted out of Louisville in 2010. Samuels averaged 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per game for Cleveland this year, a decline from the 7.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG he put up in 18.9 minutes per contest as a rookie. Despite interest from the Nets and Thunder, and later the Grizzlies, Samuels signed in the D-League shortly after his release from the Cavs and notched 19.8 PPG and 10.3 RPG in 32 games for the Reno Bighorns.
Hapoel Jerusalem had Craig Smith, another ex-NBA power forward, on its roster until he experienced a falling out with head coach Sharon Drucker, prompting the team to cut Smith loose in March. Among the other players the team considered before deciding on Samuels were Othello Hunter, who spent parts of two seasons with the Hawks in 2008/09 and 2009/10, and Rick Jackson, who was in camp this past fall with the Warriors.
With seven playoff spots clinched and the Bucks likely to lock their spot up as soon as this weekend, there won't be much late-season drama in the Eastern Conference. But seeding is still on the line, and a win for the Bulls tonight over the Nets would increase the likelihood of the two teams playing each other in the first round later this month. As we look forward to that game, let's check out a few notes from around the conference....
WEDNESDAY, 8:07am: Chris Vernon adds yet another name to the list of possibilities for the Grizzlies, tweeting that the club is thinking about signing Josh Childress. Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal also adds (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies' interest in Vujacic is real, and that he'd be given a guarantee if it made financial sense to buy out his contract overseas.
9:39am: Vernon clarifies in a second tweet that there was a misunderstanding between him and his source, and that the Grizzlies are only considering West and Walker, rather than definitely intending to sign them.
9:11am: Because the Grizzlies had already been carrying the minimum 13 players on their roster, their three-for-one trade with the Cavaliers will leave them two players short of the minimum. To fill out the roster, Memphis is expected to sign Delonte West and Bill Walker, reports Chris Vernon of 92.9FM ESPN in Memphis (Twitter link).
According to Vernon, the Grizzlies will also sign Sasha Vujacic, though we heard back in August that Vujacic's contract in Turkey wouldn't let him return to the NBA this season, so it's unclear if that has changed. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (via Twitter) and Istanbul-based reporter Ismail Senol (via Twitter), Vujacic won't be leaving Turkey's Anadolu Efes. If they add West and Walker, the Grizzlies would have reached the 13-man minimum, so there'd be no need to immediately add a 14th player anyway.
West, 29, was in camp with the Mavericks this year on a guaranteed minimum-salary contract, but fell out of favor with the team and was released just before the regular season got underway. He had a productive year in Dallas in 2011/12 though, posting a career-high 15.3 PER in 44 games, including 33 starts. Walker, meanwhile, spent most of last season with the Knicks before being released just before the playoffs. The 25-year-old averaged 5.9 PPG in 32 contests for New York in '11/12.
Even if the Grizzlies sign a pair of players to rest-of-season deals, the team shouldn't have to worry about going back over the tax threshold. In each instance, Memphis would only be on the hook for a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary, an amount small enough that the Grizz would remain under the tax line.
3:49pm: Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio.com reports that the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder may have interest in signing Samuels.
12:14pm: The Cavs have waived power forward Samardo Samuels, the team announced. The team had until Monday to place him on waivers in order to avoid paying his minimum-salary contract for the rest of the season. The move leaves the Cavs with 14 players, 11 of whom are on fully guaranteed deals. Daniel Gibson's contract is partially guaranteed for $2.49MM, while Shaun Livingston and Kevin Jones are without any guarantee.
Samuels' deal included a partial guarantee of $200K, but since he's already earned more than that amount this season, Cleveland doesn't owe him any more money. He was in the final season of a three-year pact he signed with the team after going undrafted in 2010 out of Louisville. The 6'9" native of Jamaica averaged 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game for his career, but his numbers have steadily declined since his rookie season. This year, he's down to 3.2PPG, 1.2RPG and 10.9MPG.
Samuels was caught up in a minutes crunch at his position, where he was competing with Jones, Luke Walton and Jon Leuer for playing time behind starter Tristan Thompson. If they want to give him another shot without committing to him for the entire season, the Cavs could opt to bring him back on a 10-day contract, which can be signed starting Monday.
Today's D-League assignments and recalls:
Here are Friday's D-League assignments and recalls:
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Tuesday night:
Shams Charania of RealGM had a few interesting tidbits to relay from Bulls camp, writing about how coach Tom Thibodeau personally recruited Nate Robinson, Andre Emmett's fight to earn a contract during training camp and his willingness to sign with the team at any point during the season, and coach Thibodeau's aim to maintain Joakim Noah's minutes during the season. We have quite a few more links to share with news from the Central Division...
With the season right around the corner, tons of speculation surrounds positional rotations on several teams. Here are a few recent articles that shine a little light on where certain players currently stand on their team's respective depth charts.
If you were looking forward to watching Kobe Bryant try to drop 38 points on Sacramento tonight to win the scoring title, you may want to make alternate plans. According to Sam Amick of SI.com (via Twitter), Lakers coach Mike Brown says Bryant won't play in tonight's game, meaning Kevin Durant will finish as the NBA's leading scorer for the third straight season. While it would've been fun to see Kobe gun for 38, we have to give props to Durant -- at just 23 years old, he's the youngest player ever to win three scoring titles.
Here are a few more Thursday afternoon odds and ends from around the Association: