Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, has reached agreement on a contract buyout with the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Bennett has to clear waivers in the next 48 hours to become an unrestricted free agent. Four teams have the salary cap space or the trade exception necessary to absorb Bennett’s $5.8 million contract: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.
Utah would need to waive a partially guaranteed contract to clear an additional $600,000 needed to claim Bennett. The Jazz have $5.2 million in salary cap space now.
Bennett was stuck behind several frontcourt players in Minnesota and wanted the chance to pursue his career elsewhere. His representatives are hopeful that no team claims him on waivers and that he will have the opportunity to pick his next destination as a free agent. Philadelphia and Portland plan to look carefully at the possibility of claiming Bennett, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Bennett played his best basketball as a pro for two Blazers coaches – Jay Triano and David Vanterpool – this summer on the Canadian national team, and undoubtedly Blazers general manager Neil Olshey will lean on his staff for intel on Bennett. Portland is still $13 million below the minimum salary threshold, which could factor into a possible decision to claim Bennett.
Minnesota acquired Bennett as part of the Kevin Love deal that brought the Timberwolves 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward, was a shocking choice as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cavaliers in 2013, and immediately struggled with weight and injuries. There was no team in the top 10 that had plans of selecting Bennett had he dropped to them. Nevertheless, Bennett has shown enough potential to become a serviceable forward and could easily be claimed off waivers.
If Bennett clears waivers, the Timberwolves are responsible for the balance of his buyout agreement and a new team can negotiate its own deal with him.
The Timberwolves are now down to 15 guaranteed contracts for the start of training camp.