This sort of move isn’t uncommon during the preseason as teams look to either secure players’ G League rights or ensure that returning-rights NBAGL players will receive Exhibit 10 bonuses. However, Pointer’s case is a little more complicated.
The 53rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Pointer was technically a draft-and-stash prospect who had yet to sign with the Cavaliers. He has spent his first four professional seasons playing for teams in Israel, Lebanon, and Hungary, as well as the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate.
In order to retain their draft rights to stashed players, NBA teams must submit a required tender, which is generally a non-guaranteed minimum salary contract. According to Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link), Pointer signed that tender. Because the 27-year-old wasn’t in Cleveland’s plans, he was subsequently released and the team no longer holds his NBA rights.
Curiously, the Cavs already had 20 players under contract at the time Pointer signed his tender. Teams aren’t permitted to carry more than 20 players during the offseason and preseason, but no other Cavs roster moves show up in the NBA’s transaction logs. Unless a corresponding move is reported retroactively, it seems safe to assume that Cleveland wasn’t required to clear a spot for Pointer because he signed a tender – rather than as a free agent – and was immediately released.