3:49pm: The Cavaliers, Blazers, and Jazz will also pass on claiming Bennett, Wojnarowski relays (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 3:40pm: The Sixers don’t intend on making a waiver claim on Bennett, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweets.
2:31pm: A “growing suspicion” around the league is that Bennett will end up with the Blazers, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (All Twitter links). Portland would like to sign him in free agency instead of claiming him off waivers, though given their deficit beneath the $63MM salary floor, absorbing Bennett’s full salary wouldn’t necessarily cost the Blazers extra money, Stein points out. A waiver claim would surely be Minnesota’s preference, too, since the team would be off the hook for any money to Bennett in that situation.
11:58am: The Sixers, just like the Blazers, plan to carefully study the possibility of claiming Bennett, Wojnarowski reports in a new full piece. Bennett’s camp would prefer that he hit free agency so that he can choose his next team, Wojnarowski adds.
TUESDAY, 11:21am: The Trail Blazers are expected to pursue No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett once he hits waivers following his Timberwolves buyout deal, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Bennett and the Wolves have agreed to the buyout, and the team will release him soon, Charania reported minutes ago. Portland has enough cap room to claim Bennett off waivers, but it’s not immediately clear if the Blazers plan to do so or prefer to chase him in free agency. The Sixers also have the cap room necessary to claim him, and the Cavaliers have a trade exception large enough to snag him off waivers, too, though it’s not clear if either of those teams have any such inclination. The Jazz can clear the requisite cap space if they cut some non-guaranteed money, but they are unlikely to have interest, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported Monday.
Portland employs Canadian national team head coach Jay Triano as an assistant coach, as Charania alluded to and as former Nets executive Bobby Marks points out (Twitter link). The Raptors also have interest, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities has heard, though Toronto could only end up with him if he hits free agency first, and the Raptors would be limited to paying him the minimum salary, since they used up their cap space and spent their room exception on Bismack Biyombo.
The Blazers have only 13 fully guaranteed contracts, plus four more without full guarantees, as our roster count shows. They have a league-low of nearly $48MM in guaranteed money, so they would have no trouble fitting Bennett on the roster. The trick would be in finding playing time for him at power forward, where Portland has Meyers Leonard and Noah Vonleh, whose presence Jabari Young of Comcast SportsNet Northwest cited to Hoops Rumors when he suggested reasons why the team hasn’t signed Tristan Thompson to an offer sheet. The addition of Bennett, if it takes place, would ostensibly extinguish any hint that Portland would circle back to Thompson before the start of the season, though that’s just my speculation.
Toronto doesn’t have a clear-cut starter at power forward, seemingly Bennett’s best position, since the Raptors appear poised to take a small-ball approach with free agent signee DeMarre Carroll at the four, where the alternative would be starting Patrick Patterson. Still, the presence of Luis Scola and James Johnson would complicate Bennett’s chances at minutes.
The Sixers already have signed contracts or verbal deals with 20 players for camp, so they’d have to get out of one of them to add Bennett. Only 13 Sixers have fully guaranteed pacts, including Nerlens Noel, who was the front-runner to become the No. 1 pick in 2013 before an injury cleared the way for Bennett. Noel is the presumptive starter at the power forward position, though the rotation at the four is settled beyond him.
What do you think would be the best landing spot for Bennett? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.