Let’s state the obvious: There are no high quality players being cut loose by teams. They all have flaws. If they were still in their prime or at least playing at a relatively high level, they’d still be with their teams.
But the buyout season is all about finding the right fit, and so teams will sift through the discount bin and see who works. All players who are waived before March 1 are playoff eligible, so expect plenty of picking and choosing by contending teams and the players themselves.
On Friday, the Celtics said their good-byes to David Lee, perhaps the most desirable available player because he hasn’t played much over the last two seasons. He lost his starting job to Draymond Green in 2014-15 and, after being traded to the Celtics last summer, sat this season in favor of younger post-players.
Lee can sign with anyone except the Warriors; if he wanted to boomerang back to the Bay, he’d have to wait until July. Lee is a former All-Star but is clearly a role player now. The last two seasons he’s averaged 18 minutes and 15 minutes.
But that means he isn’t wearing much tread on his tires right now. Also, three years ago when he was a regular in the Warriors rotation, Lee averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds. And he’s only 32. In the right situation, and given the right role, he can be useful. He brings a mid-range shot and rebounds well.
“I feel great right now,” Lee said. “I feel healthy. I’m just excited for the next opportunity.”
Expect the Mavericks to express interest in Lee. Also, the Bulls could use front-line help, and the Raptors didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline, so they could be in play as well.
Another decent buyout candidate is Joe Johnson. There’s no deal yet between Johnson and Brooklyn, but the Nets have absolutely no use for him, considering they’re well beneath the playoff cutline. Johnson would probably be more coveted than Lee because of a proven history of taking big shots in important games. Any contender with a need for a big guard who can shoot and defend will be on Johnson’s radar; the Cavaliers come to mind.
Other players have either been released or in the process of being cut, among them: Anderson Varejao, JJ Hickson and Steve Novak.