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.
While veteran players like Kenyon Martin and Mickael Pietrus are reportedly uninterested in signing for the minimum salary, Shawne Williams appears very open to such a deal. According to Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com, Williams would like to join the Knicks on a minimum-salary contract, but New York isn't currently interested.
The Knicks are still seeking a power forward to fill out their roster, but are targeting players like Martin and Louis Amundson rather than Williams. If those players sign elsewhere or remain out of the Knicks' price range (the team can only offer minimum-salary deals), Williams, a former Knick, may re-emerge as a potential option. In the meantime, the Hawks and Bobcats are eyeing the 26-year-old, says Zwerling.
Williams, the 17th overall pick in 2006, has seen NBA action for the Pacers, Mavericks, Knicks, and Nets since his rookie season. Most recently, after injuries cut his 2011/12 campaign short, he was dealt by the Nets to Portland, where he never played a game for the Trail Blazers. The Blazers bought Williams out earlier this summer, which could be one reason he's willing to play for a minimum salary.
Among the NBA free agents still looking for work, Kenyon Martin arguably has one of the strongest career resumés. Given his past production, the former first overall pick has "remained steadfast" in not wanting to sign for the veteran's minimum, according to Alan Hahn of MSG Network (Sulia link). A few teams, including the Knicks and Celtics, have K-Mart on their radar, but New York can't offer more than the minimum, and the odds of Boston signing Martin are "slim to none," according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
Here are a few more Atlantic Division notes from Hahn, Blakely, and a handful of other NBA scribes:
The Wizards reportedly have interest in Martell Webster, as we heard earlier today, and they're also among a handful of teams in the mix for Michael Redd. Michael Lee of The Washington Post confirms the team's interest in those two and says the team is also considering Terrence Williams and Shawne Williams.
Lee reports the Wizards are watching a number of free agents as they consider whether to add a player to their roster, which stands at 13. They have about $3MM in cap room, but plan to sign someone for the minimum, Lee says. That would make it hard to corral Anthony Tolliver, another player on Washington's radar, since agent Larry Fox has said his client isn't “in the minimum game.”
Terrence Williams hasn't drawn much interest this summer, though a report early last month linked him to the Kings, Pistons and Suns. The Kings signed Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, this past season after he was waived by the Rockets. He put up solid numbers in 20.5 minutes per game for Sacramento, averaging 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 18 contests, but the team elected not to give him a qualifying offer before June 30th, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Shawne Williams opted in to the final year of his contract with the Blazers, worth $3.135MM, but became a free agent last month when the Blazers bought him out last month. Williams missed most of 2011/12 with a left foot injury, and was sent from the Nets to Portland in the Gerald Wallace deal at the trade deadline. He appeared in 25 games before the injury and shot poorly, with a percentage line of just .286/.241/.727 compared to the .426/.401/.837 he put up in 2010/11 with the Knicks.
JULY 11, 9:16pm: The Blazers have placed Williams on waivers, the team announced via Twitter. Teams will now have a week to place a claim on him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
JULY 6, 1:33pm: The Trail Blazers have reached an agreement to buy out the final year of Shawne Williams' contract, tweets SI.com's Sam Amick. Williams, who exercised his player option for 2012/13, was slated to earn $3.135MM in the coming season.When the move becomes official, Williams will become an unrestricted free agent. The Blazers, meanwhile, will take a cap hit worth a portion of Williams' salary, but will free up a little room and a roster spot.
Amick, who also first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement on a buyout, speculates (via Twitter) that two of Williams' former teams, the Nets and Knicks, could have some interest in the 26-year-old. The former 17th overall pick could also be a fit for the Lakers, Amick adds.
The Trail Blazers are nearing an agreement to buy out Shawne Williams' contract, tweets SI.com's Sam Amick. Williams, who was traded to Portland earlier this year, exercised his player option worth $3.135MM, which keeps him under contract for one more years with the Blazers.
If the Blazers and Williams agree on a buyout, the team will have the opportunity to spread the cap hit for the deal over the next three seasons under the NBA's stretch provision. An agreement would likely give Portland a couple million more dollars to work with in free agency.
Shawne Williams has officially exercised his player option for next season and will remain under contract with the Trail Blazers for another year, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. Haynes first reported in April that Williams would pick up his 2012/13 option, worth about $3.14MM.Williams, 26, was traded to Portland in the deadline deal that sent Gerald Wallace to Brooklyn. Williams was included in the deal with Mehmet Okur for salary purposes, as both players were on the shelf with season-ending injuries at the time. Even before suffering his left foot injury, Williams was having a poor season, averaging just 4.5 PPG on 28.6% shooting in 25 games for the Nets.
If the Blazers choose to release Williams at any point this season, they'll still be on the hook for his $3MM+ salary, but could spread it over the next three season, under the CBA's stretch provision. Still, with Williams' agent Happy Walters expecting his client to be back to 100% health this summer, Portland will likely at least take a look at the former first-round pick.
Blazers forward Shawne Williams, rehabbing from surgery to repair a broken left foot, will exercise his $3.135MM option for next season as expected, Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reports. Portland acquired the 6'9", 225-pound forward from the Nets at the trade deadline after he signed a two-year deal with New Jersey in December.
The Blazers tried to buy him out shortly after acquiring him, but he rebuffed their attempts. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors said then that the chances he'd turn down the option were "close to zero." The move eats into the Blazers' cap space for the offseason, but with Jamal Crawford expected to decline his $5.23MM option, the team should still have plenty of room to pursue free agents. They should have only about $32MM committed for next season, though that doesn't count cap holds set aside for what could be a pair of first-round draft picks.
Williams, making $3MM this year, went down in February and hasn't played at all for Portland after averaging 4.5 PPG on 28.6% shooting in 25 games for the Nets. The 17th pick in the 2006 draft had resurrected a foundering career last season with the Knicks, when he connected on 40.1% of his three-point attempts, but couldn't duplicate that success this year, making just 24.1% of his three-pointers.
Considered a candidate to be bought out when he was acquired from the Nets at the trade deadline, Shawne Williams won't accept a buyout from the Trail Blazers, agent Happy Walters tells Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
"We talked about the possibility of a buyout, but we decided it just wouldn't make sense for us," Walters told Haynes. "Shawne is continuing to rehab right now and he's excited to be a Blazer."
Williams is sidelined for the season with a left foot injury and has a player option for $3.1MM for next season, so it's easy to see why a buyout wouldn't appeal to him. Generally, buyouts give players a chance to sign with a contender and make up a portion of the money they'd be giving up, but Williams obviously wouldn't be signing elsewhere this season. He also isn't on an expiring contract, like many bought-out players are. However, according to Walters, he and his client are still undecided about next year's player option.
"It will depend on the coach and the GM situation," said Walters. "We have time to make up our mind, but we'll wait and see what happens with those situations first."
While the agent and player are being diplomatic, I think the chances of Williams turning down the option are close to zero. Coming off a season that saw him underperforming even before the injury, Williams won't find a better deal on the open market, and would likely be more receptive to a buyout if he thought he might opt out of his final year anyway.