For the second consecutive year, Joe Smith might be joining Cleveland at midseason to try and help the Cavaliers make a run at an NBA championship. The Thunder waived Smith on Sunday — or bought out his contract — hours before the deadline in which teams must have a player on the roster to be eligible for the playoffs.
Oklahoma City acquired Thabo Sefolosha and Nenad Krstic in midseason trades that limited minutes for veterans such as Smith. With an open roster spot, general manager Sam Presti can now sign a free agent or NBA Developmental League player on 10-day contracts for evaluation the final six weeks of the season. "This was a very sound basketball and business decision,” Presti said. "Moving forward, Joe’s opportunity on the floor was limited with some of the other guys on the roster. This also gives us roster flexibility.” Cleveland is believed to be the leading candidate to sign Smith, especially after Ben Wallace suffered a broken leg Friday. The injury is expected to sideline Wallace four to six weeks. Presti said Desmond Mason, plus veterans Chucky Atkins and Malik Rose, who were acquired in trades, will provide a veteran influence on an Oklahoma City team that is one of the youngest in the league. The Thunder benefits financially from Sunday’s move.