The latest move by the 76ers will fill a glaring need and save the ownership group $2 million.
The team claimed swingman Sonny Weems off waivers Monday from the Phoenix Suns and released power forward Christian Wood from his 10-day contract. As a result, the Sixers will get credit for taking on Weems' $2.8 million, full-season salary.
The Sixers were about $2.6 million below the salary-cap floor of $63 million. They actually will have to pay only $660,000 of his salary. The team would have owed its players an additional $2.6 million if it didn't pick up Weems or any other player to reach the salary-cap floor by the end of the season.
This isn't the first time the team has executed this cost-saving transaction.
Last year, the NBA Players Association investigated the Sixers regarding possible violations of the "spirit" of the collective bargaining agreement. The team was way below last season's salary-cap floor before several late-season acquisitions of players, including Thomas Robinson. As in the case of Weems, the Sixers were credited with their full-season salaries while paying only a fraction to reach the salary floor. Robinson was claimed off waivers from the Nuggets.
At the time, the union's complaints, which were relayed to agents during a June meeting, were largely related to how the Sixers reached last season's salary-cap floor of $56 million.
But Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie did not violate any rule.
"That's what the players agreed to in 2011, that free-agent claims would count for the entire contract, just as if it were a trade," Larry Coon, an expert on the collective-bargaining agreement, told the Inquirer in June. "It's based on cap value, not the amount you actually paid."
The Sixers did not re-sign Robinson in the summer. A league source said the team plans to take a look at Weems. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder's contract is not guaranteed next season. So the Sixers wouldn't owe him any money next season if they released him now or at the end of this season.
"Does it look bad doing it two years in a row? Yeah," a league source said. "But you can look at the logic that they need a wing player and this kills two birds with one stone. It gets them to the floor and it pays them $2 million and they get to look at Sonny Weems."
Small forward Robert Covington and shooting guards Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson are the only true shooting guards/small forwards on the roster. Isaiah Canaan is a converted point guard. Jerami Grant is an undersize power forward who plays some small forward for the Sixers.
Weems averaged 2.5 points, 1.3 assists, 1.1 rebounds, and 11.7 minutes in 36 games this season with Phoenix. The 29-year-old spent the previous three seasons playing for CSKA Moscow of the VTB United League. Before that, he had a one-year deal with BC Zalgiris of the Lithuanian Basketball League.
Weems was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft and traded to the Nuggets two days later. He also played for the Toronto Raptors.
Former Sixers point guard Tony Wroten is negotiating with the New York Knicks.