The season-long disagrement between the Utah Jazz and Raja Bell has finally reached its conclusion, as the team announced it has waived the 12-year veteran on Sunday.
Bell has not been with the team at all this season after vocalizing unhappiness with his role and criticizing head coach Tyrone Corbin. The Jazz had paid him to stay home, while exploring options to trade him before offering to buy out his contract for less than the fully guaranteed amount.
Bell and the team did not reach a buyout agreement, so this move creates a roster spot for the Jazz, but Bell will receive the full amount of his contract.
Bell needed to be waived by March 1 to be playoff eligible this season. He is free to sign with another team once he clears waivers, but if he does catch on with someone he won’t be able to play for them past the end of the regular season.
Bell’s agent told Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune that Bell definitely wants to play again, though his diminished skill set and poor attitude may make that a challenge.
The roster in Utah now stands at 14, but the team is expected to sign Travis Leslie from the D-League to fill that spot, Oram reports. The team is reeling, and finds itself tied with the Lakers record-wise for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, after losing by 29 points to a depleted Knicks team on Saturday.
Raja Bell will not accept a buyout of his contract with the Jazz before Friday’s midnight deadline for him to be eligible to sign with another team and play in the postseason, his agent told Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Bell, who is being paid $3.48 million this season, has been away from the team all year since directing unflattering comments at coach Tyrone Corbin at the end of last season. Earlier this week, Jazz Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin O’Connor told a team-owned radio station that the Jazz had offered the minimum buyout to Bell before the season and that “we never heard from him.”
“The framework of the buyout we have had in place all year was premised on us finding an offer in the league,” Rudoy said in a text messsage to The Tribune. “We did not, so Raja is turning down the buyout.”
Lakers fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as Bell was on the team’s radar, thanks to the fondness both Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant have expressed for Bell’s game in the past. But besides the fact that Bell is no longer close to the defensive stopper and high-percentage three-point shooter that he once was, reports had L.A. cooling on the idea in recent days over payroll and luxury tax concerns.
It’s unclear whether or not Bell has anything left; his production has diminished quite a bit in recent seasons, likely due to a combination of injury and age. His temperament isn’t a great fit for … well, anyone at this point, which is why he’s been paid to stay home by the Jazz since the beginning of the season.
We told you, the big deals we love to talk about are not as likely to happen this year. There’s a lot of buzz about the Celtics but if you were around Kevin Garnett at all All-Star weekend you saw a guy adamant he is not waiving he no trade clause. The Lakers are not moving Dwight Howard and nobody is taking the injured Pau Gasol. The Clippers likely hold on to Eric Bledsoe. And so on and so on….
But there will be a lot of smaller deals as the deadline nears. Here is a Tuesday morning roundup of things you might be on the lookout for.
• The Thunder are shopping backup point guard Eric Maynor around, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. While he has struggled and been injured the past couple seasons he has potential and is a restricted free agent this summer — some team is going to offer more tan the Thunder are willing to pay for him. So they are trying to move him now.
• The Magic will move J.J. Redick before the deadline but the price is a first round pick, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.
• There have been multiple reports in recent days that the Timberwolves have been aggressive in trying to add a veteran or two to the roster.
• The Chicago Bulls are just over the luxury tax line and may trade to get under it for a year, especially with uncertainty as to when Derrick Rose returns, reports CBS’s Berger. This is that fear of the repeater tax again and they are putting Richard Hamilton on the block.
• If the Lakers are going to make a move it is likely a small one, and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni would like it to be for Raja Bell, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Not sure that happens, however.
• Golden State is about $1 million over the tax line. With a repeater tax kicking in starting next summer, look for them to make a small move to shed a little salary and get under the line, reports CBS’s Berger.
• If you’re looking for guard help some other guys available are Minnesota’s Luke Ridnour, Phoenix’s Sebastian Telfair and Washington’s Jordan Crawford, according to ESPN’s Stein.