Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Timberwolves buy out Bennett for US$3.65m

AP, MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota

The deck seemed stacked against Anthony Bennett almost from the moment he entered the NBA.

A surprise No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a woeful 2013 draft class thrust expectations on a player still recovering from a major shoulder injury that essentially rendered his rookie season moot. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer, a throw-in to help the Cavs land All-Star forward Kevin Love.

Now, before he has even started his third season in the league, Bennett is on the move again.

The Timberwolves placed Bennett on waivers Wednesday.

If he clears as expected, the team has agreed to a US$3.65 million buyout of his contract, a person with knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team does not disclose contract figures.

If Bennett is claimed by either Portland or Philadelphia — two teams with cap room to bring him in — he will make all of the US$5.8 million his contract called for this season and would not get the buyout from the Timberwolves.

If he clears waivers, he may have to sign a minimum salary contract worth US$947,000, thereby forfeiting about US$1 million from his original salary.

After a promising summer spent playing well for Team Canada in the FIBA Americas tournament, Bennett pushed hard for his release from Minnesota. The Timberwolves have a load of power forwards on the roster, including Kevin Garnett, this year’s No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne, in addition to Shabazz Muhammad, a small forward who could slide to the post in small-ball lineups.

All of those players figured to make finding consistent playing time a challenge for Bennett, so he sought his release to join a team where he might be able to fill a defined role.

“When you look at our team, our deepest position is probably power forward,” Wolves general manager Milt Newton said in a statement issued by the team. “This move balances out our roster while also allowing Anthony another opportunity in the NBA. He has a lot of talent and his play this summer internationally made this a difficult decision for us.”

After signing Bjelica, point guard Andre Miller and small forward Tayshaun Prince this summer, the Timberwolves had 16 guaranteed contracts on the roster, one over the maximum. They had other options to free up a spot, including newly acquired three-point shooter Damjan Rudez and veteran point guard Lorenzo Brown.

However, Bennett’s desire for a change of scenery made their decision for them.

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