But that won’t make him just a free agent just yet.
A buyout is a player agreeing to reduce his salary guarantee if he clears waivers.
Bennett hasn’t yet cleared waivers. If he does, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
But three teams – the 76ers, Trail Blazers and Cavaliers – have the cap room to claim him first.
Philadelphia and Portland plan to look carefully at the possibility of claiming Bennett, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The 76ers would have priority, because they finished with a worse record than the Trail Blazers last season.
I also wouldn’t eliminate the Cavaliers from placing a waiver claim. It’s possible Wojnarowski and Charania just don’t have sources to confirm Cleveland’s interest. But I’d also be surprised if the Cavs claimed Bennett. Though they drafted him No. 1 in 2013, they’ve since replaced the general manager who made that selection, Chris Grant, with David Griffin.
If any team gets Bennett on waivers, it would inherit his existing contract – a $5,803,560 guaranteed salary for this season and a $7,318,289 team option for 2016-17 that must be decided by this Nov. 2. It’s unlikely anyone would exercise Bennett’s option, but it’s nice to know you could if he has an amazing preseason.
Philadelphia, deep in the rebuilding process, is the type of team to take a chance on a young talent like Bennett. He’s just 22, and the consensus rated him in the top 10 of the 2013 draft. In fact, when the 76ers traded Jrue Holiday for the No. 6 pick in 2013 (Nerlens Noel), they reportedly would have done so only if Bennett, Noel or Victor Oladipo were available.
Portland is also rebuilding, and two of its assistant coaches – Jay Triano (head) and David Vanterpool (assistant) – coached Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship this summer. Maybe they could help Bennett recreate his success in that tournament.
Bennett would probably get less than his current deal on the open market, but then he could pick any team. The 76ers and Trail Blazers must weigh whether getting Bennett without negotiating is worth the additional cost.
I think he might be, but it comes down to a question Philadelphia’s and Portland’s front offices are much more equipped to handle: How else would they use the cap room?