Longtime NBA Vets Vying For Roster Spots

This week might have signaled the end of Corey Maggette‘s playing career, as the Spurs released him two days after he indicated he’d retire if San Antonio cut him. Training camp invitations are usually reserved for younger players, but the 33-year-old Maggette wasn’t alone among veterans with plenty of NBA experience on non-guaranteed deals. A half-dozen players who’ve played at least nine NBA seasons have fully non-guaranteed contracts with teams around the league. Here’s a look at how each of them stands with a week and a day left before the last camp cuts must go on waivers.

  • Rasual Butler, Pacers: NBA teams didn’t appear to have much interest in Butler before the Pacers signed him in early September, but he’s survived the first round of cuts and is one of 15 players currently on the Indiana roster. Coach Frank Vogel has made it sound like the team only wants to carry 13 players to start the regular season, and with 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, Butler’s place on the team remains precarious.
  • Brian Cook, Jazz: Cook spent what would have been his 10th NBA season last year playing in Puerto Rico, but he wound up with Utah after changing agents this summer. He’s probably battling five other guys for two spots, but his chances got a boost this week when the Jazz waived fellow big man Dwayne Jones.
  • DeSagana Diop, Cavaliers: A report last week categorized Diop as a favorite to win a regular season roster spot, though another Cavs beat writer suggested others were more likely to get the nod. In any case, it’s a wide open camp in Cleveland, where 20 players have contracts, but only 11 of those deals are fully guaranteed.
  • Royal Ivey, Hawks: The Spurs, Suns and Bucks also had interest in Ivey over the summer, but the 31-year-old guard wound up with the Hawks, a team with only a dozen fully guaranteed deals and 18 total players in camp. Ivey outlasted fellow nine-year veteran Damien Wilkins, whom the Hawks waived on Monday.
  • Mike James, Bulls: James has a history with Chicago, which signed him to a pair of 10-day contracts and a deal for the rest of the season in 2011/12. He traveled a similar path with the Mavericks last year, as our 10-day tracker shows, but despite a strong showing in Dallas and negotiations with the Mavs about a new deal this summer, the 38-year-old wound up back in Chicago. He has a strong chance of making the Bulls, since he’s one of only 15 players on the roster and is reportedly the front-runner to become the team’s 13th man on opening night.
  • Roger Mason, Heat: Coach Erik Spoelstra has given Mason plenty of playing time in exhibitions and he’s performed remarkably well, averaging 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds on 53.8% three-point shooting in 28.7 minutes per game. Still, the Heat have been planning to carry just 13 players to start the regular season, and they already have 13 fully guaranteed deals. Mason is one of seven guys on non-guaranteed deals with the Heat, a list that includes Michael Beasley, so Mason’s strong preseason showing may not be enough to keep him in Miami.
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