Top NBA buyout candidates: Tyreke Evans, Marco Belinelli, Joe Johnson lead the list
Teams must sign players before March 1 for them to be eligible for the playoffs
But now, the focus will turn to the final method of player acquisition this season: The buyout market. Every season, veterans on bad teams are waived, and there are always numerous playoff teams waiting in the wings to bolster their rosters for the stretch run. This season figures to see a busy buyout market. Teams have until March 1 to sign a player in order for them to be eligible for the postseason roster.
And so, with that, here are some of the top buyout candidates for this season.
The Grizzlies sat out Evans the past week or so with the expectation that they were going to trade him, but in the end were not able to find a deal for the veteran guard, who is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. With Evans set to be a free agent in the summer, and the Grizzlies in full tank mode, perhaps they will decide to buyout Evans and let him join a playoff team. There's been no real indication either way yet, but if the Grizzlies do release Evans, he'll be by far the most sought-after member of the buyout class.
Another player who was benched in preparation for a trade, only for one never to develop, Belinelli seems a prime candidate for a buyout. He's a veteran bench scorer languishing on one of the worst teams in the league. It seems only fair at this point that the Hawks let him go. When they do -- just going to go ahead and assume it happens -- Belinelli figures to have many teams interested in his services. He's a strong 3-point shooter, and has championship experience.
Seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson was involved in the three-team trade the Cavaliers made with the Jazz and the Kings. He was sent from Utah to Sacramento, and is expected to receive a buyout. Which, of course, makes sense, though it would have been pretty cool to see Johnson, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter all on the same team in 2018. Alas, it is not meant to be -- at least not for long. There are already teams interested in Johnson, including the Celtics and Warriors. Though he has struggled this season, he was phenomenal in the playoffs last season for the Jazz, and could provide some scoring off the bench.
Allen was actually dealt last week, when the New Orleans Pelicans sent him to his hometown Chicago Bulls in the Nikola Mirotic trade. The Bulls, though, are not expected to keep Allen around. The veteran guard has been dealing with a left fibula fracture, but should be healthy soon. Any team looking for some help on the defensive end may decide to call up Allen, who even in his 14th season can be a real pest on that end of the floor.
Diaw has not played in the NBA this season, but he can be included in this list because he has a buyout clause with his French team that would allow him to return to the Association. According to a report from ESPN, Diaw's camp has been in contact with multiple playoff teams, and there appears to be some interest in the veteran forward. Diaw spent last season with the Jazz, and though far from the player he once was, could provide some veteran leadership and frontcourt depth.
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