76ers Waive Five, Trim Roster to Fifteen
The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have waived Brandon Paul, Cat Barber, Shawn Long, James Webb, and Dionte Christmas, bringing the roster down to fifteen players, the NBA’s regular season limit.
Teams are allowed to carry up to twenty players during the offseason. The deadline to trim the roster down to fifteen was 5 p.m. today.
Of the five players the 76ers waived they will designate Barber, Long, Webb, and Christmas as affiliate cuts, according to a league source. This provides the 76ers with the exclusive D-League rights for these four players if any of them sign a contract to play in the D-League.
The NBA allows teams to retain the D-League rights for up to four players cut during training camp. This only grants the team the right to have the player on their D-League roster if the player signs a contract with the D-League, however, meaning any NBA team is free to call up any of these four players to NBA contracts.
Christmas is the most interesting, or at least the most surprising, since his signing was just announced earlier this afternoon using the roster spot created by the retirement of Elton Brand. Signing a player, only to wave him a few hours later, is an odd seasonal ritual in the NBA created because of the aforementioned rule, done for the sole purpose of having the player’s D-League rights should they wind up signing with the D-League.
Still, the signing of the former Temple University star came out of left field. Christmas, 30, played for three different European clubs last season, finishing the year with four appearances for AEK Athens in the Greek A1 League, the top league in Greece. He played for Torku Konyaspor in the Turkish League and Hapoel Holon of the Israeli League earlier in the season.
Christmas played in 31 games for the Phoenix Suns during the 2013-14 NBA season, averaging 2.3 points in just over 6 minutes per game. That is the only regular season NBA experience Christmas has to date, although he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers preseason roster last year, averaging 6.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in four appearances for the Cavs.
Brandon Paul played for the Canton Charge, the Cleveland Cavaliers D-League affiliate, during the 2014-15 season. If players who have played in the D-League in the last two seasons return, their rights are held by the team who they last played for, so Paul will play for Canton if he does end up signing with the D-League.
Paul, who played last season with Joventut in the Spanish ACB, is expected to either seek a chance to catch on with another NBA team or explore his options overseas, according to a source.
Players sign contracts with the D-League itself, not the parent NBA team, and assigning somebody as an affiliate cut does not necessarily guarantee the player will wind up playing in the D-League. Barber, Long, Webb, and Christmas are all free agents, and are free to sign on with another NBA team or pursue an opportunity overseas.
Paul made four appearances for the 76ers this preseason, averaging 7.3 points and shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range in just under 10 minutes per contest, and had the best chance of making the opening day roster among the group waived today. Barber averaged 5.5 points in two games, Webb 4.2 points in six appearances, and Long 4.0 points in seven preseason appearances. Christmas did not play for the team this fall.
Making the initial 15-man roster does not necessarily provide any guarantee, however. Many players have been placed on waivers over the last few days, players who the team could have interest in. Players are on waivers for 48 hours, at which point their contract is awarded to a team who claimed them, or they become a free agent if no team put in a bid.
If the 76ers do elect to put in a claim on a waived player they will be at the top of the list. Waiver priority is determined based on record, and the team with the worst record wins the tiebreaker in the event that multiple teams attempt to claim the same player.
The NBA does allow teams to temporarily expand rosters to 16 players in the case of a hardship. The league requires that four or more players miss at least three games due to injury, and expect to continue to miss time, before a team can apply for the extra spot. The 76ers only expect three players (Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, Nerlens Noel) to be unavailable at the start of the season, and this exception would not be available to them on opening night regardless.
In unrelated injury news, Jeff Goodman of ESPN is reporting that Jerryd Bayless is likely to miss the first month of the season as he recovers from a torn ligament in his left wrist.