Just two years ago, Anthony Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Now, Bennett will be joining his third team in three years, as he’s reached a contract buyout with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported Monday that the two sides were working toward a buyout.
The Cleveland Cavaliers surprisingly made Bennett the No. 1 pick in 2013, then saw him put forth a historically bad rookie season in which he struggled with weight and health issues. He was then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Kevin Love deal, and the forward displayed some improvement this past season, averaging 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game.
Bennett showed some nice things playing for Canada as the FIBA Americas Championship this summer, but with the frontcourt crowded in Minnesota, there wasn’t a guaranteed role for the 22-year-old. And considering he’s set to make $5.8 million this upcoming season with a $7.32 million team option for 2016-17, the Wolves don’t have much use for him and apparently can’t find a trade partner. Waiving him gets Minnesota down to 15 guaranteed contracts before training camp.
Bennett’s NBA career isn’t dead, and hopefully for his sake he latches on somewhere and shows real improvement. He’ll never live up to that No. 1 pick status, but he could still carve out a niche in the league. The Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers are the two teams with cap space available to put in a waiver claim (the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz could absorb him into a trade exception), and him winding up on the rebuilding Sixers would make some sense. There’s also a link to the Blazers’ coaching staff (assistant coach Jay Triano coached Bennett for Team Canada), and Charania says Portland could be a suitor despite an already crowded frontcourt.