Livio Jean-Charles

AP Photo/John Raoux

Spurs waive first-rounder Livio Jean-Charles before first NBA game, putting him in small club

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It took a few years, but the Spurs finally signed Livio Jean-Charles – the No. 28 pick in the 2013 draft – to a rookie-scale contract this summer.

The problem: Jean-Charles tore his ACL in Europe and hadn’t developed as San Antonio hoped.

So, San Antonio is cutting bait historically quickly.

Spurs release:

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that the team has waived Joel Anthony, Ryan Arcidiacono, Patricio Garino and Livio Jean-Charles.

This allows the Spurs to keep two players without guaranteed salaries, Bryn Forbes and Nicolas Laprovittola. A shooting guard, Forbes is a 3-point specialist who went undrafted out of Michigan State. Laprovittola, a point guard, will give San Antonio a second Argentinian with Manu Ginobili – though Garino could’ve been three.

Jean-Charles is just the fifth first-round pick in the rookie-scale era to be waived or renounced before playing in the NBA. The other four:

Royce White (No. 16 pick in 2012 by Rockets)

White and and Houston never got on the same page about how to handle his anxiety issues. The Rockets traded him in a financial move to the 76ers, who waived him. White later played three games with the Kings.

Frederic Weis (No. 15 pick in 1999 by Knicks)

Weis never came to the NBA from Europe, but he became infamous for getting dunked on by Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics. New York traded Weis’ rights to the Rockets (for Patrick Ewing Jr.) in 2008. Weis retired in 2011, and Houston renounced him.

Leon Smith (No. 29 pick in 1999 by Spurs)

The Mavericks acquired Smith in a draft-night trade, and the player who jumped straight from high school struggled in every respect. He clashed with coaches and management, attempted suicide and got arrested twice before being released during his rookie season. It’s a sad tale. Smith later had short stints with the Hawks and Sonics.

Travis Knight (No. 29 in 1996 by Bulls)

Knight never even signed a contract. Chicago renounced him rather than giving him the required three-year guaranteed deal. He signed with the Lakers and made the All-Rookie second team. That led to a more lucrative contract with the Celtics, and Knight also played for the Knicks in a seven-year NBA career.

Spurs 2010 second-rounder Ryan Richards joins mix in San Antonio

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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The Spurs built an international farm system by drafting or trading for the rights of players who remained overseas.

San Antonio is hoping to yield dividends this year.

The Spurs have signed Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 pick in 2013) and Davis Bertans (No. 42 pick in 2011).

Now, they’re adding Ryan Richards (No. 49 pick in 2010).

Richards is on a one-year, unguaranteed minimum deal, according to Basketball Insiders. It seems he took the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must offer to retain rights to their second-round picks. Whether San Antonio wanted Richards to accept the tender is another question.

He’ll compete with Ryan Arcidiacono, Patricio Garino, Bryn Forbes and Nicolas Laprovittola for the Spurs’ final regular-season roster spot. Despite a fully guaranteed salary, Bertans might also need to work his way onto the team in the preseason.

Whichever of those players San Antonio waives will become NBA free agents. Hence, the Spurs might have preferred Richards stay overseas, where they could have retained his exclusive rights among NBA teams.

But for Richards, this is a decent opportunity to make an NBA team. The Spurs don’t have an apparent lock for that 15th spot. Even if they waive him, he’ll gain NBA free agency and the ability to sign with any team.

Richards is a 7-foot 25-year-old big man with a solid shooting touch and jarring lack of rim protection. A British native, he has bounced around lesser leagues, most recently playing in Beirut.