2024 NBA buyout season: Who are the candidates?

If your team was not willing or able to complete a deal in time for trade deadline, the good news is that the trade deadline is not a roster deadline. Waivings, signings and waiver claims can be made up to and including the last day of the regular season, and some of the players who have been traded as financial filler in deals – or who were not dealt when they were expected to be – might now be bought out of their incumbent contracts and hitting the free agency market in the springtime. Indeed, some already have been.

This is an annual cycle, and in the past, it has made for some significant moves. A particularly strong recent example was the case of Markieff Morris, who posted 19 points in Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals having been bought out by the Detroit Pistons only a few weeks prior, with others such as Boris Diaw (San Antonio, 2012), Peja Stojakovic (Dallas Mavericks, 2011) and the combination of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli (Philadelphia 76ers, 2018) also being impactful players in their short stays.

Developments in the Collective Bargaining Agreement have tempered the potential impact slightly. Galvanized by the absurdity of the Boston Celtics trading Gary Payton in 2005 only to re-sign him a week later, the 2005 CBA saw a rule implemented which ensured that a player could not return to the team that traded him for a period of 30 days; however, after the Cleveland Cavaliers salary-dumped Zydrunas Ilgauskas in 2010 only to immediately re-sign him after that period, the 2011 CBA modified the rule to make it so that a cannot reacquire a player it traded away during the same season.

In the latest CBA, prohibitions go even further. Teams that are above the first tax apron cannot sign players whose previous salary was more than the amount of the Non-Taxpayer MLE or $12,405,000, which puts the kybosh on many of the moves that fans of the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, L.A. Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns may be hoping for. The rich can only get slightly richer, and the player’s current salaries are important now in a way they were not before.

Nevertheless, there are always available players, and always interested teams. Here are some of the players expected to be in the buyout market over the coming weeks.

Davis Bertans (Charlotte)

Salary: $17,000,000

In an unexpected trade deadline deal, Bertans was moved from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Hornets as a part of the package for Gordon Hayward, and because of Hayward’s hefty $31.5 million salary, the Latvian was needed for financial reasons. From Charlotte’s point of view, however, he is only needed for financial reasons. A roster spot down the stretch of the season is probably more useful for them. But for contending teams, Bertans’s career 39.8 percent three-point shooting across the frontcourt will be alluring.

Seth Curry (Charlotte)

Salary: $4,000,000

The Hornets made multiple deals on deadline day, one of which was essentially a swap of power forwards with the Dallas Mavericks (Grant Williams and PJ Washington). Curry was included in that deal, yet despite how good he has been for Dallas in the past, this has not been the case in 2024. He has played only 12.7 minutes per game off the bench in 36 games, shooting 37.2 percent from the field, and at age 33, there seems little purpose in the rebuilding Hornets keeping onto him for long. Perhaps a shooting regression to the mean will happen somewhere else.

Spencer Dinwiddie (free agent)

Salary: $20,357,143

One of the bigger names to hit the market, the Raptors traded the pair of Thaddeus Young and Dennis Schroeder to Brooklyn in exchange for Dinwiddie, purely to immediately waive him, so as to avoid paying him more. And because of his proven quality, evidenced by his average of 12.6 points and 6.0 assists per game so far this season, everyone will want Dinwiddie. He, more than everyone else on this list, could be a starter. Bear in mind, however, that not everyone can have him – on account of the size of his previous salary, teams above the first apron will not be allowed to sign him to any deal. And that rules out some contenders.

Evan Fournier (Detroit)

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $18,857,143

The Knicks and Fournier wanted to separate for a while, and only the potential usability of his expiring salary kept him there as long as he was, when he was finally dealt to the Pistons in the deadline day deal for Bojan Bogdanovic. An 80-game starter two seasons ago, Fournier has played only 39 minutes all season despite good health and has gunned up shots with reckless abandon within them. It is however only three years since Fournier averaged 19.7 points a game in his part-season with the Orlando Magic, and he is still only 31 years of age. A Belinelli-esque impact is possible, if he reins it in.

Danilo Gallinari (Detroit)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $6,802,950

Given his 20 years as a professional, 16 seasons in the NBA, National Team runs, 35 years of age, and injury history, Gallinari’s days defending the perimeter for more than three seconds at a time are done. Yet even though he is not a rim protector, he has the size to reinvent himself as a modern-day stretch five and has done some of that in the few minutes he has managed so far. Gallo has scored 50 points in the only 79 minutes he has managed for the Pistons on the season and could be a wise and versatile bench-scoring option for someone else’s postseason push, as long as they have a place to hide him on defense.

Joe Harris (free agent)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $19,928,571

It was only so recently that Harris was a premier shooter and coveted player in the league. This year, though, he was even further down the Pistons bench than Gallinari, and suffered the indignity of being waived to accommodate Detroit’s deadline deals (including the one for the very similar Simone Fontecchio, which illustrates by itself Harris’s decline). A myriad of knee, shoulder and ankle injuries have caught up with him, and he has averaged only 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting in bit-part minutes of 15 games on the season. Nevertheless, over the previous six seasons, Harris never shot less than 42 percent from three-point range, and at age 32, he has time for a second wind.

Killian Hayes (free agent)

Salary: $7,413,955

Despite giving him 1,008 minutes of game time this season, including 31 starts, and allowing the narrative that prioritizing his defense over the on-the-job training of Jaden Ivey, the Pistons waived Hayes to facilitate the trade for House. They thus benched, restarted, tried to accommodate a trade request and finally cut Hayes, all in the same week. This speaks to how fragile his place in the league has been. Nevertheless, the former lottery pick is still only 22 years of age, and is a good redraft candidate for teams near the very bottom. Just not the one at it.

Danuel House (free agent)

Salary: $4,310,250

Dumped by the 76ers onto the Pistons on deadline day and immediately waived, House was only ever with both teams for financial reasons. That said, there may still be some value to be had in him as a player; in 34 games  for the Sixers this season, the 6-foot-7 wing has averaged 4.2 points per game, and brings postseason experience with him.

Cory Joseph (Indiana)

Salary: $3,196,448

Joseph represented the sole salary-dumping move by the capped-out Golden State Warriors when he was moved to the Pacers in the final hour for nothing but a protected pick. He had played regularly for the Warriors, but not especially effectively, and the buyout of Dinwiddie pushes him down the point guard list. Nevertheless, as a decent defender, Joseph represents a solid depth option should anyone want it.

Robin Lopez (free agent)

Salary: $3,196,448

Lopez was the only person acquired or dealt by the quiet Sacramento Kings at the deadline, and they were essentially paid to do so, salary dumped by the Milwaukee Bucks to save on their hefty tax bill (while also potentially getting themselves into the buyout conversation). The Kings will not be keeping him, putting the 35-year-old center on the market once more. Anyone who signs Robin will get size, veteran presence, and some jokes.

Kyle Lowry (Charlotte)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $29,682,540

Kyle Lowry – who has not played for Charlotte and seemingly never will – seems a certainty to be waived, given his advanced years and the Hornets’ place near the bottom. Lowry has looked far from his peak so far this season, averaging 8.2 points in 28 minutes a game and without the bite in his defense any longer, but he only needs to string together a few good weeks.

Patrick Mills (Atlanta)

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $6,802,950

Passed around a few times in the offseason, Mills eventually wound up on the Hawks’ roster, but never really in their rotation. With only 18 games played all season, he is into the final stretches of a long career, and any team interested in his services will need to be sure that a player whose game depended so much on his burst of speed still has some of it left to give. If he does, then Mills offers savvy and shooting to go with it.

Marcus Morris (free agent)

Salary: $17,116,279

At the deadline, Morris was sent from the Indiana Pacers (who had received him earlier in the day in the trade for Buddy Hield) to the San Antonio Spurs along with a second-round pick for the services of Doug McDermott, a player who might otherwise have made this list. It was immediately reported that the Spurs – in no real need for a player of Morris’s type, nor his age –  would buy him out. Morris, it would appear, has hit the journeyman stage of his career.  Yet having averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game so far this season, he still has something to give, should anyone want it.

Cedi Osman (San Antonio)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $6,718,842

Osman offers a known if limited package on the wing, should any other team decide they need that more than the Spurs. In 50 games this season, he has averaged 7.3 points on healthy 37.0 percent three-point shooting, and with an expiring contract it makes little sense for the Spurs to keep him.

Derrick Rose (Memphis)

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $3,198,448

Supposed to have helped offset the summertime loss of Tyus Jones, Rose has instead been hurt once more and appeared in only 19 contests. With the Grizzlies’ season around him being a write-off due to Ja Morant’s injury, Memphis is getting what they can (as evidenced by the trade of Steven Adams) and have Disabled Player and Trade Exceptions to use up in the coming days to get some assets for the future. To do that requires roster spots. And with the team heading for the lottery, a buyout of Rose to create one seems logical.

Delon Wright (Washington)

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $8,195,122

Although posting the lowest numbers since his rookie season, Delon Wright can still defend the point of attack, even if the turgid Wizards this season have not showcased it well. And so should he hit the buyout market, his combination of versatility and experience will be of some value.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype