The Spurs on Saturday showed that money isn’t always the driver of decisions in professional sports when they waived one player with a two-year guaranteed contract worth more than $2.4 million to make room for two other players who had earned their way onto the 15-man roster for opening night.
Livio Jean-Charles, the team’s first round selection in the 2013 draft (28th overall), was one of four players waived to pare the roster to the NBA maximum of 15. A 6-foot-9 forward from France, Jean-Charles had played the past four seasons for Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne, of the French Pro-A League. Veteran Spurs point guard Tony Parker is majority owner of Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne.
Because Jean-Charles was a first round draft pick the Spurs had to sign him to a rookie scale contract in order to bring him to training camp. Such deals typically guarantee a roster spot, but the Spurs were willing to release him despite having to pay the $1.19 million he is guaranteed this season and another $1.24 million next season.
It is rare for NBA teams to “eat” multi-year contracts and the waiver of Jean-Charles is believed to be the first time the Spurs have released a player with a guaranteed multi-season deal before opening night.
Also released on Saturday were center Joel Anthony, a veteran of eight NBA seasons, and rookies Patricio Garino and Ryan Arcidiacono.
The thigh injury that will keep starting guard Danny Green sidelined for about three weeks may have played a part in Gregg Popovich’s decision to keep two guards, rather than one big man and one guard. That Forbes was one of the two guards to make the opening night roster was hardly a surprise after his standout play in Friday’s pre-season finale, a 114-99 win over the Houston Rockets. A 6-foot-3 combination guard who was undrafted after a standout senior season at Michigan State, Forbes made 7-of-8 shots, including all four of his 3-point attempts, and scored 19 points in just under 18 minutes of the second half.
Laprovittola will become the third Argentine to wear a Spurs uniform, after Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto. He impressed Popovich with his play with the Argentina team in the Olympic tournament in Rio de Janeiro and earned an invitation to camp, where his toughness and basketball IQ continued to make an impression.
“I watched him in the Olympics and just became more and more impressed with every game,” Popovich said. “He has done a good job.”