OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -The Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to release veteran forward Joe Smith on Sunday, setting the stage for him to sign with a playoff contender like the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith, who was acquired from Cleveland in an August trade, had been relegated to the bench in Oklahoma City but could be a valuable asset for a team making a playoff push. Rumors have circulated that the Cavaliers would be interested in Smith, particularly after they lost Ben Wallace to a broken leg.
Smith averaged 8.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in 27 games down the stretch with Cleveland last year. He was averaging 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds this season with the Thunder, but hadn't played the last eight games.
alik (Rose), Chucky (Atkins) and Desmond (Mason) continues to give us a veteran presence,'' Thunder general manager Sam Presti told The Associated Press. ``Right now, a lot of the minutes in our frontcourt are being used up by some of our young guys.''
Smith was included in the Thunder's trade to New Orleans for center Tyson Chandler that fell apart when Chandler failed his physical. Soon after, reports surfaced that Smith might instead seek a buyout so he could pursue a contract with a contender like Cleveland, the Boston Celtics or the San Antonio Spurs.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 draft, Smith had repeatedly denied that he was seeking a buyout.
With him seldom getting onto the court in Oklahoma City and his contract running out at the end of the season, the Thunder had little reason to prevent him from seeking other options.
Smith was a regular in Oklahoma City's rotation at the beginning of the season, but he was sidelined by a leg injury about the time the Thunder signed center Nenad Krstic in December. He hasn't been playing nearly as much since then.
Smith, who's averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds with nine NBA teams, could clear waivers as early as Wednesday.
l allow him to pursue another opportunity.''

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Warriors vs. Blazers Game 4 Pick Will the Golden State Warriors close out their NBA Playoffs series with the Portland Trail Blazers when the two meet in Game 4 tonight at 10:30PM...
Thumbnail Wizards vs. Hawks Game 4 Pick Will the Atlanta Hawks pull even with the Washington Wizards when the two meet up in Game 4 of their playoff...
Thumbnail Bucks vs. Raptors Game 5 Pick Who has the edge when the Toronto Raptors host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of their NBA Playoff series today at 7PM...
Thumbnail Clippers vs. Jazz Game 4 Pick Can the Utah Jazz take advantage of a short-handed Los Angeles Clippers team when the two meet tonight in Game 4 of their series at 9PM...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Bulls Game 4 Pick Can the Boston Celtics pull even with the Chicago Bulls when the two meet tonight at 6:30PM ET in Game 4 of...

NBA Team Pages