NEW ORLEANS – The Timberwolves bought out Andre Miller’s expiring contract and waived the veteran guard Thursday, the same day team owner Glen Taylor said he’d be “open” to doing the same with Kevin Martin.
Miller’s one-year contract he signed for the NBA’s veteran minimum $1.5 million salary will expire this summer, so the transaction allows the 39-year-old to join a team aimed at the playoffs if he clears waivers Saturday.
Players must be waived by 11 p.m. Central time Tuesday in order for them to play for another team in the playoffs.
Miller’s release leaves the Wolves with 14 players under contract and creates a roster spot should they decide to sign a player. If they do so, that player probably will be a forward or center because the Wolves remain without injured forwards Nemanja Bjelica, Kevin Garnett and center Nikola Pekovic heading into Saturday’s game at New Orleans.
Taylor said his team hasn’t approached Martin’s side about a contract buyout but said he’d be “open” if Martin’s agent makes a proposal so his client can sign with a playoff-bound team.
“I’m not pursuing that,” said Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune. “You always need some guys with experience who can shoot threes.”
Martin played only four minutes in Wednesday’s loss at Toronto and has played a reduced role much of this season because of a wrist injury on his shooting arm. Interim coach Sam Mitchell has also been committed all season to playing the team’s young players.
Last week’s trade deadline passed without Martin being dealt. A buyout agreement by Tuesday would take Martin’s summertime option out of play and guarantee the Wolves $7.4 million more to spend on at least one free agent this summer when the salary cap balloons because of the NBA’s new $24 billion television deal.
Miller and Tayshaun Prince both signed one-year contracts for that $1.5 million vet’s minimum last summer. They did so believing they’d play for coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, who died in October at age 60 less than five months after he was diagnosed with cancer. Miller, in particular, signed intending to play a bigger role in his 17th NBA season than he has.
Timberwolves General Manager Milt Newton called Miller a “consummate professional” who set a “good example for our younger players on what it takes to be a pro in this league.”
Taylor said the process to sell 30 percent of the franchise to Los Angeles private-equity investor Steve Kaplan’s group is at a “standstill” while Kaplan pursues selling his minority portion of the Memphis Grizzlies. NBA rules prohibit owning parts of two teams.
Taylor said he believes the transaction still will be completed.
Taylor said he has no set no deadline to complete the sale and said the process likely will take months and “not weeks.”
“We can’t do anything until he works a deal in Memphis,” Taylor said.
When asked if there could be complications with Kaplan selling his portion of the Grizzlies, Taylor said, “He hasn’t told me that.”