The Atlanta Hawks announced they waived veteran shooting guard Marco Belinelli. Atlanta was unable to trade Belinelli prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, but several contenders are reportedly interested in signing him once he becomes a free agent. According to Wojnarowski, the 76ers, the Spurs and Thunder are among the teams potentially interested. The 31-year-old Belinelli is in the midst of his 11th NBA season, his first with the Hawks. In 52 games during the current campaign, Belinelli is averaging 11.4 points, 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 41.1 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. Belinelli has never spent more than two consecutive seasons with a single NBA team. He is accustomed to being an offensive spark plug who has come off the bench for nearly his entire career, and he could be a quality addition to a contending team in need of more offensive punch from its reserves down the stretch.
After agreeing to a contract buyout with the Sacramento Kings, Joe Johnson will sign with the Rockets. The buyout is expected to be finalized later Saturday. Johnson will clear waivers on Monday afternoon and will be eligible to sign immediately. The Kings acquired the guard from the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team dealprior to the NBA trade deadline on Thursday. Johnson is the second player to commit to signing with Rockets out of the buyout market. Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright will sign with Rockets upon clearing waivers. The 36-year-old Johnson had played a minor role off the bench for the Jazz this season, averaging 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. He has earned $214 million in his career — fourth-most among active players behind Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Brandan Wright also plans to sign with the Houston Rockets after his buyout. Memphis did not find a trade partner for Wright prior to Thursday’s deadline, but with the Grizzlies entering Friday 10.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, the veteran big is expendable. In the midst of his 11th NBA season, the 30-year-old Wright is averaging 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest in 27 games. Wright is an NBA journeyman, as he has played for the Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Grizzlies during his career. He has spent each of the past three seasons with the Grizzlies, but has appeared in a total of just 67 games during that time. Originally the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of North Carolina, Wright has put up career averages of 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting 60.7 percent from the field in 427 regular-season games. Wright also has 12 games of playoff experience to his credit.
The Chicago Bulls have waived guard/forward Tony Allen after acquiring him in a trade last week. The 14-year veteran came to Chicago in the deal that sent Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans. Allen averaged 4.7 points in 22 games for the Pelicans before breaking his leg. He has not played since Dec. 10, though he returned to New Orleans’ active roster just before the trade.
On the subject of current management of the Knicks and the new presence of Emmanuel Mudiay, Larry Brown spoke with SNY: “I have a lot of respect and admiration for [Perry]. I’ve always been a Knick fan when he got there. I’m more and more inclined to try to watch and root for him because he’s such a quality guy. And I’m happy for Emmanuel…I’m hopeful this will be a really great situation for him.” Brown, 77, believes a change of scenery will benefit Mudiay, who averaged 11.1 points and 4.2 assists in two-plus seasons in Denver after becoming the No. 7 overall pick in 2015. Brown added: “Sometimes you go to a situation that maybe just doesn’t fit you. And then you land somewhere else where you have a coach that maybe you connect with right away….I know Jeff [Hornacek], he realizes he losing the kids he’s lost [to injury and trades], that this is a time that he has to get people better. And he comes from an unbelievably great culture. When you play for Jerry Sloan as long as he did and you’re in that situation in Phoenix where they were pretty good, I’m pretty confident he’ll relate to Emmanuel and help him grow.”
Brown also thinks Mudiay can play alongside the Knicks other young lead guard in Frank Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in 2017: “My thing is, the Knicks got a core of young guys and with [Kristaps] Porzingis getting hurt, it’s a situation [where] I’m pretty confident they’ll feel comfortable playing Emmanuel with Frank. That to me is a pretty good situation because when you look down the road [Enes] Kanter can score in the low block. We know Porzingis is going to be a terrific player. I think [Tim] Hardaway can score the ball, [Courtney] Lee can make a shot, so the things that Emmanuel does best, I’m hopeful they’ll recognize. He can be a premier defender, he’s a gym rat, he’s got a high IQ and he’s a great kid. And I think he just wants to be coached and I’m pretty confident they’ll do that”.
The Toronto Raptors have reportedly discussed targeting a number of players who may be bought out by their teams in the near future, including Sacramento Kings guard Vince Carter, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. The Raptors chose to retain their rotation players at the trade deadline but can potentially look to add a piece before the buyout deadline. With Toronto on the verge of completing what could potentially be its best campaign in franchise history, Carter would improve its depth and be a veteran presence off the bench. The 41-year-old signed an $8-million contract with the Kings this past summer. He’s averaging five points and 2.1 rebounds in his 20th NBA season.