Watford’s non-guaranteed minimum salary ($1,836,096) for 2023/24 would have become fully guaranteed if he had remained under contract beyond Friday. By cutting him, Portland won’t be on the hook for that money and will create a little extra roster flexibility entering free agency.
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It’s a somewhat surprising move, given that Watford is just 22 years old and is coming off a pretty good season in Portland. He averaged 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists with a shooting line of .560/.391/.720 in 62 appearances (19.1 MPG) in 2022/23.
Watford will become an unrestricted free agent if he passes through waivers, but given his age, his modest salary, and his solid track record, he’s a candidate to be claimed.
Although he’s on a minimum-salary contract, Watford’s deal initially covered four years, which means it can’t be claimed using the minimum salary exception. A team with interest in claiming the former LSU standout would need to have the cap room or a trade exception necessary to cover his $1.84MM salary.
If Watford is claimed, his 2023/24 salary would become guaranteed and his new club would hold a minimum-salary team option for ’24/25.