Anthony Bennett is going home. According to ESPN’s John Goodman, the former No. 1 pick of the 2013 NBA Draft has cleared waivers and is set to sign with his hometown team the Toronto Raptors sometime early next week.
Sources tell ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that all 30 teams were notified at 5 p.m. ET on Friday that Bennett had cleared waivers. The Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers were the only teams with sufficient salary-cap space to claim him, though the Cleveland Cavaliers had a trade exception big enough to absorb Bennett’s $5.8 million salary.
Bennett instead walked away from the Minnesota Timberwolves with a $3.65 million buyout and is expected to sign with the Raptors for $947,276.
After a disappointing rookie season in Cleveland, Bennett was included as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Bennett and 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins last summer. Bennett didn’t improve much during his sophomore campaign, and a report emerged earlier this week that the Minnesota Timberwolves were closing in on a buyout of his contract. He was officially waived on Wednesday night.
Bennett played well for the Canadian national team during their (ultimately futile) run through the FIBA Americas tournament earlier this month, a fact that should endear him to hometown fans. But where he fits in the Raptors’ rotation is anybody’s guess. Toronto has a virtual logjam at the power forward position that includes Bismack Biyombo, Patrick Patterson, and marquee free agent signee DeMarre Carroll, who will likely gobble up most of the available minutes as the Raptors try to take the next step as a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Still, for the price, Bennett is a relatively safe bet. And most important for him, it’s another chance to carve out his niche as an NBA player and prove to the doubters that there is a place for him in this league.