As we relayed last night, Adrian Wojnarowski of YahooSports has reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves are nearing a buyout with former #1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and the Portland Trail Blazers may be interested. This morning the rumors are heating up.
More from Yahoo:
Bennett wanted and received buyout to control fate and success for next NBA team. Portland expected suitor, w/ Canada coaching connections.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 22, 2015
The Canadian connections referenced are Trail Blazers assistant coaches Jay Triano and David Vanterpool, both of whom have worked with the Canadian national team, of which Bennett is a member.
In addition, this observation comes from within the organization itself:
Considering that the Blazers have a ways to go to hit the salary floor, picking up Bennett is a rather low cost option.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) September 22, 2015
From our original article:
The 6'8", 240 lb forward is only 22 years old, which fits in well with Portland's schedule. But he's failed to make any positive impact during stops in Cleveland and Minnesota. In two seasons he's accumulated averages of 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.
Bennett is scheduled to make $5.8 million next season with team options/qualifying offers making him potentially available until the summer of 2018, with his salary topping out at $9.5 million under his current contract structure. The Blazers could absorb the initial year without impacting their cap situation...in essence a free one-year trial. They'd have to commit more salary to him long-term if they wanted the experiment to extend beyond that. The potential for sewing him up would be the main reason to take on his current contract. Failing that they could just wait for him to clear waivers (assuming he's waived) and try to pick him up on the cheap, but Bennett would be free to sign with any team outside of the Timberwolves in that scenario.
The National Post wrote about Bennett's improvement, and role on the Canadian National team.
Marc Stein expounds on the matter:
Growing suspicion around league is that Anthony Bennett will wind up in Portland ... where his Team Canada coach Jay Triano is an assistant— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 22, 2015
Blazers' preference would naturally be signing Bennett after he clears waivers. But Portland not only has the cap space to claim him ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 22, 2015
Blazers are also nearly $13 million below league's salary floor, so claiming Bennett off waivers certainly wouldn't punish them financially— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 22, 2015
Dream scenario for POR is Bennett clearing waivers & signing cut-rate deal, then retaining flexibility to make trades into space all season— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 22, 2015