Beno Udrih negotiated his way out of New York so he could choose where he would play out the remainder of his 2013-14 season. Well, it seems the Memphis Grizzlies have made that decision for him.
ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting the Grizzlies claimed Udrih's contract off waivers from the Knicks on Wednesday, ending whatever pursuit there would have been for him on the open market before it began:
Grizzlies have claimed Beno Udrih off waivers, I'm told— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 26, 2014
In conjunction with Udrih's claim, forward Metta World Peace has cleared waivers and is now free to sign with any team. The Knicks officially waived Udrih and World Peace on Monday after speculation over the weekend the move was imminent.
“We are disappointed that it did not work out for Beno and Metta here in New York,” general manager Steve Mills said in a statement. “We thank them for their contributions this season and wish them well.”
While many termed the negotiations with World Peace and Udrih as "buyouts," the NBA's collective bargaining agreement dictates a player must be placed on waivers before an official buyout can be reached. The waiver period is 48 hours, hence the announcement coming at the end of business Wednesday.
Memphis is yet to officially confirm the Udrih signing. By claiming him off waivers, the Grizzlies are required to pay the remainder of his $1.27 million salary for this season. That number is ultimately inconsequential, because whoever signed Udrih on the open market would have had to pay him a proration of the veteran's minimum—exactly what Memphis will pony up.
The Knicks, however, get off scot-free of any financial obligation remaining.
Seen as a quality low-cost move from New York last summer, Udrih never quite panned out. His minutes were sporadic at best, with head coach Mike Woodson taking him in and out of the rotation almost entirely depending on injuries. One night Udrih would play seven minutes; the next he would be in the starting lineup and play 35.
Udrih actually started 12 games while appearing in 31, averaging 5.6 points and 3.5 assists per game on 42.5 percent shooting. But as the Knicks grew healthier over the past couple months, Udrih was essentially scrubbed clean from the rotation. He hasn't played since Jan. 24 and has played double-digit minutes only five times since the New Year.
In late January, Udrih requested a trade, but the Knicks were unable to find an amenable deal by the deadline. Even with New York having myriad issues at the point guard spot, it seems Woodson thought it was better to just move on than trying to reintegrate Udrih into the rotation.
Alas, the Knicks' loss should be the Grizzlies' gain. Memphis has a glaring need for ball-handling help behind Mike Conley, with 6'6" Nick Calathes having to handle most of those duties this season. Calathes has acquitted himself just fine, but Udrih is a more natural shot-creator and should give the Grizzlies an extra shooter beyond the arc.
No team attempts fewer three-pointers per game than Memphis, and the Grizzlies often struggle to find proper spacing. Udrih should help in both respects, making him a low-cost move as they make a playoff push down the stretch.
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