In a not-so-surprising turn of events on Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they released newly acquired forward Earl Clark. Part of the Spencer Hawes trade, Clark joined the Sixers on Thursday. Just one day later, he was no longer with the team.
Per source, CLE will also send forward Earl Clark to Philly along w/ 2 seconds for Hawes. Yahoo! reported Hawes would be going to Cleveland.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 20, 2014
Picks surrendered in deal are 2014 2nd round pick & the Memphis 2014 2nd round pick acquired in July 2012 trade with Grizz to the 76ers.— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) February 20, 2014
This move could have been seen coming as the Sixers had 16 players on their roster—the NBA's limit is 15 players. Clark certainly could have found a role on the team, however, after Philadelphia shifted in the direction of a cap-friendly youth movement, Clark didn't fit the bill.
Clark was due $4.25 million in 2013, according to Spotrac.com—a number that the 15-40 76ers were not willing to pay. Actually, it could be easily speculated that not a single NBA team would be willing to pick up that contract.
Either Earl Clark or Alonzo Gee basically has to be in Hawes trade to make the money work. Both non-guaranteed for 2014-15.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) February 20, 2014
Expect Clark to easily clear waivers.
However, once he does, he should find a suitor rather quickly.
Despite putting up some average numbers during his short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Clark has shown glimpses at times. When he is given enough playing time, he has proven that he can be a worthwhile addition to a roster—especially a contender's roster.
At this point in the season, plenty of teams are looking to make a strong push for the playoffs. Clark would be a welcomed addition to a team in that situation that could also afford him some playing time.
When Clark is on the court for 15-plus minutes—even in a complementary role—he has shown his effectiveness. That was proven last season when Clark was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged a career-high 23.1 minutes per game and put up career highs in points and rebounds per game at 7.3 and 5.5, respectively.
Clark can be effective off the bench and can be had at the right price once he clears waivers. Contenders should be interested in him, and according to his agent, they may be shortly.
USA Today editor Jorge Sierra had this to say after speaking with Clark's agent:
I spoke with Kevin Bradbury, Earl Clark's agent, and he's expecting several playoff contenders to express interest, but it's very preliminary at this point since Clark has not even cleared waivers. What I can tell you is that the trade caught them a bit off guard. His name wasn't popping up in trade rumors that much and it was all a surprise.
The NBA standings continue to stay close as teams fight for playoff seeds down the stretch. Given the right circumstances, Clark could be a key cog in a contenders final playoff push.
After his 48-hour waiver period ends, expect to see Clark in a new uniform quickly.