2:38pm: The Grizzlies have now officially signed Buchanan and cut Vital, according to a second press release from the team. Buchanan currently occupies the 20th spot on Memphis’ roster, while Vital and Smith are both on waivers.
1:48pm: The Grizzlies continue to shuffle players in and out of the spots at the back of their roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent guard Christian Vital, waiving guard Zhaire Smith to create room on the 20-man squad.
Vital, who spent his college career at UConn, averaging 16.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.5 SPG in 31 games (32.2 MPG) as a senior in 2019/20. He went undrafted last month, and now looks like a strong candidate to end up with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate. The same is true of Smith, who had just signed with the Grizzlies on Tuesday.
It’s not uncommon to see players being released a day or two after they’re signed at this time of year. Signing a player to an Exhibit 10 contract and then cutting him allows an NBA team to secure the player’s G League affiliate rights if they don’t already belong to another NBAGL club, or to line up a $50K bonus for returning-rights players.
It appears that 6’3″ guard Shaq Buchanan will be one of the Hustle’s returning-rights players. After spending his rookie season with Memphis’ G League team last season, averaging 11.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 33 games (22.4 MPG), Buchanan has signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Grizzlies again this year, agent Josh Goodwin tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).
After swapping out Smith for Vital, the Grizzlies have a full 20-man roster, so they’ll need to waive another player in order to officially announce the Buchanan signing. Ahmad Caver and Bennie Boatwright are the most obvious candidates to be cut, but we’ll await official word from the club.