Anthony Bennett Waived by Raptors: Latest Comments, Reaction

Daniel KramerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 29, 2016

Toronto Raptors forward Anthony Bennett (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Denver. The Nuggets won 112-93. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that they waived former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett.

On Monday, Shams Charania of The Vertical reported the team's intentions to release the 22-year-old and ink Jason Thompson to a deal for the rest of the season. Michael Grange of Sportsnet confirmed Charania's report. 

Charania noted the Phoenix Suns may consider adding Bennett once he clears waivers.

The former No. 1 overall pick would make sense for the struggling Suns, who dealt power forward Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards at the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Bennett, who averaged 1.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and zero assists in 4.4 minutes across 19 contests for the Raptors this season, would provide some frontcourt bench depth in Phoenix. In the five games since trading Morris, his replacement, Mirza Teletovic, has chipped in 20.0 points and 7.2 rebounds a night, knocking home at least three treys in every contest.

Toronto's decision to waive Bennett came on the same day as the playoff eligibility waiver deadline, and the Raptors are clearly invested in enhancing their frontcourt depth with Thompson, who the Golden State Warriors waived last week. Toronto is currently No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings.

Since the Cleveland Cavaliers took Bennett with the top pick in 2013 after his remarkable freshman year at UNLV, the 22-year-old has been a massive disappointment, starting in just three of the 128 games he's played. Cleveland shipped him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Andrew Wiggins trade in August 2014, and he signed as a free agent with the Raptors last summer.

Sean Deveney of the Sporting News contextualized how Bennett's career ranks among other notable draft busts:

Yet, Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports argued Bennett was destined for disappointment in Cleveland, as the Cavaliers only gave him 12.8 minutes of playing time per game in his rookie season—the year before LeBron James' return:

If Bennett does find a landing spot—be it in Phoenix or elsewhere—it may be his last chance to kick-start his NBA career after three underwhelming seasons.