According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Celtics have waived both Jarvis Varnado and Kris Joseph this afternoon. The move comes just one day ahead of the league deadline of January 7th in which all non-guaranteed contracts must be waived before they become fully guaranteed for the season on January 10th. (All contracts must be put through waivers two days ahead of time). Dumping both players brings the Celtics roster down to 12 players overall at the moment, and just ten healthy players at the moment, as Chris Wilcox remains sidelined with a thumb injury, while Fab Melo continues to be sidelined after suffering a concussion last week.
Joseph, the C’s 2nd round draft pick out of Syracuse played just six games, averaging 1.2 points on 18 percent shooting for the C’s, spending the vast majority of his time with the Maine Red Claws in the D-League. Varnado appeared in five games for the C’s, purely during garbage time and also averaged 1.2 ppg, after being signed last month for big man insurance once Wilcox went down with a thumb injury.
CH’s Take: These moves should not come as a surprise to most C’s fans. Varnado was brought in simply as a stopgap on the roster during the last month, likely with the full expectation of being waived before this deadline. Releasing Joseph may come as somewhat unexpected to fans, but the reality is the small forward is a fringe-NBA player at best right now, and with the Celtics toeing the line closely to the $74 million cap barrier, the cap savings ($473,604) and future roster flexibility the C’s gain this year in dumping Joseph now far outweigh any potential impact he could have for them down the line. He’s not ready to contribute yet, and may never be at an NBA level, pure and simple.
Even though the C’s waived both players, it may not be goodbye to both for good. Starting Monday, all NBA teams can begin signing players to 10-day contracts over the remainder of the regular season. I expect Danny Ainge to use these 10-day contract to fill the roster as a stopgap up until the trade deadline, perhaps as soon as Monday to provide the C’s with additional depth until more attractive pieces begun available via buyout or if a trade is made.
For your reference (via the Larry Coon CBA FAQ) here are the rules for signing 10-day contracts:
Teams may sign players to 10-day contracts starting January 51 each season. Teams cannot sign players to 10-day contracts that would extend past their last regular season game. In other words, after their 80th game (64th in 2011-12) or after the 10th day before their last regular season game (whichever comes first) teams can no longer sign 10-day contracts.
A team may sign a single player to two 10-day contracts in one season (they may or may not be consecutive). After the second 10-day contract, the team can only retain the player by signing him for the remainder of the season. A team can’t have more 10-day contracts than they have players on their Inactive List.
Under these provisions, the C’s could bring back Joseph or Varnado for a couple 10-day stints if needed. From there, they could re-sign either for the remainder of the season, or turn to other talent from the D-League/overseas for a 10-day stint. Additionally, there are plenty of available free agents out there (Kenyon Martin, Derek Fisher, etc.) the C’s could sign to fill one of their three empty spots, but it’s doubtful Ainge would want to commit salary to any of those guys on the market for the remainder of the season at this juncture, with next-to-nothing in cap space.
The $74 million is a hard cap, so if the C’s make a mistake in a signing, they won’t get another chance to use that precious cap space. With no serious injuries on the roster right now, expect Danny to be patient, waiting out both the trade and free agent markets before pushing his chips to the middle of the table at the trade deadline or with a veteran big that becomes available via buyout in February or March.
Hopefully this year, that guy ends up playing a little bit better than Troy Murphy did.