The Knicks waived Ricky Ledo, dropping their roster to 14 players (including Darion Atkins and Wesley Saunders who are likely headed to New York’s D-League affiliate).
So, as his agent indicated, the Knicks will finally sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Ledo’s axing is expected to pave the way for the long-awaited signing of Antetokounmpo, according to sources.
Antetokounmpo – brother of the Bucks’ Greek Freak – was the No. 51 pick in the 2014 draft. He spent last season in the D-League, graciously giving the Knicks more time to evaluate him without him counting toward the cap, taking up a roster spot or making a high salary.
He’s an energy player whose length and athleticism give him nice defensive potential. As far as projects go, the Knicks have one who probably warrants further investment.
Depending on order of transactions, New York might have a sliver of cap space, which it could to sign Antetokounmpo to a three- or four-year contract. The final seasons surely wouldn’t be fully guaranteed, and a long-term deal would give the Knicks value if Antetokounmpo pans out. If they don’t have space, they’d be limited to a two-year deal with the room exception or minimum-salary exception.
The Knicks made a low-cost bet on Ricky Ledo.
It hasn’t paid off.
Ledo would have received a $100,000 guarantee if not waived by tomorrow, making dropping him an easy call. He just hasn’t done enough in the NBA, D-League or summer league to justify that large of a payout.
The Knicks now have 14 players, though Darion Atkins and Wesley Saunders will likely get waived and assigned to New York’s D-League affiliate. The Knicks still have the room exception $2,814,000, and the minimum-salary exception will likely land someone more valuable than Ledo on this contract.
Heck, if he goes unclaimed on the waiver wire – which he probably will – the Knicks could even re-sign Ledo without giving him the guarantee. I wouldn’t count on that, though. This experiment seems over.
When Amar’e Stoudemire committed to the Mavericks, I figured he’d take the place of Bernard James – who’s on a 10-day deal.
But Dallas is going a different direction to clear a roster spot.
Shams Charania of RealGM:
Ricky Ledo was a second-round pick in 2013 after one season practicing (not playing) at Providence due to NCAA-eligibility issues. He played just 16 games for the Mavericks in two seasons, spending plenty of time in the D-League.
Though he was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school just three years ago, Ledo is already 22. He has two unguaranteed minimum seasons after this one remaining on his contract, so a team – looking at you, 76ers – could claim him on waivers. But the fact that Dallas cut him rather than James should say something.
The Mavericks already had 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed contracts when they signed Charlie Villanueva to a non-guaranteed deal.
Dallas apparently intrigued Villanueva, who also reportedly had an offer with the Clippers, a team with an open roster spot.
But when he arrives at Mavericks training camp, he’ll find an even more crowded field of players trying to break onto the roster.
Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
To clarify, a team must sign a player to an NBA contract to bring him to training camp. So, Liz has an NBA contract. It’s just likely fully unguaranteed or maybe barely guaranteed. That way Dallas can waive him before the regular season with no or minimal penalty.
Liz just played in the World Cup for the Dominican Republic, a team dominated by Francisco Garcia, which should say something about the squad’s caliber. The Dominicans went 2-4 in the tournament, and Liz ranked fourth on the team with 6.5 points per game.
But he made 11-of-23 3-pointers (49 percent), and he shot 39 percent in Venezuela last year and 37 percent in Puerto Rico the year prior. Maybe that single dimension gets him to the NBA.
All said, it will be difficult for Liz to supplant a Maverick with a guaranteed contract, let alone the other players – Villanueva, Ivan Johnson and Eric Griffin – also trying to make the team without a guaranteed deal. Most teams will favor the players they already have to pay, though maybe Dallas eats the salary of Ricky Ledo or Gal Mekal.
I just wouldn’t count on that.
Will Raymond Felton or Devin Harris start at point guard for the Mavericks?
After trading Jose Calderon to the Knicks, Dallas has a vacancy in the backcourt next to Monta Ellis. Felton has disappointed lately, and Harris hasn’t been a full-time starter in a couple years.
The decision will say as much, if not more, about how Rick Carlisle wants to balance his starting lineup and bench rather than just the ability levels of Felton and Harris.
But beyond their choice between Felton and Harris, the Mavericks want another point guard. At this point their best options are veteran castoffs – Jameer Nelson (waived by the Magic) and Mo Williams (essentially cast aside by the Trail Blazers).
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The Mavericks still have the room exception ($2,732,000), a decent raise over minimum contracts for Nelson and Williams ($1,448,490).
But can Dallas sell them on this role?
Both Nelson and Williams seem overqualified to become typical third point guards. However, that’s probably not what the Mavericks envision for either.
Beyond Felton, Harris and Ellis, they’re pretty thin at guard. They also have just Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo, so maybe Carlisle wants Nelson or Williams to frequently deploy two-point guard lineups. Last year, Calderon and Ellis often shared lead-guard responsibilities, and that worked well.
The Mavericks can make a reasonably compelling pitch. Now, it’s just a matter of whether Williams liked it or Nelson will.