The Phoenix Suns made two roster moves on Friday, the first official day of the NBA free agency period according to this report in the Arizona Republic.. One move was expected and the other isn't all that surprising in retrospect. The first move, was waiving veteran guard Vince Carter. The second was waiving "rookie" Gani Lawal.
Lawal isn't technically a rookie since he was drafted in the 2010 class (46th overall) but he played just two minutes with the Suns last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in January. Lawal, a 6-9 power forward / center out of Georgia Tech, worked hard and got himself back on the court with a team in Poland during the lockout.
Gani averaged 30 minutes in 10 games and put up big numbers in the Polish League. He averaged 11.7 rebounds and 16.5 points per game, shooting 63% from the field. If nothing else, the overseas stint proved he is fully recovered from the torn ACL and was an opportunity for him to showcase and develop his game.
The Suns were loaded in the front court with Marcin Gortat, Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick and this year's lottery pick, Markieff Morris. The writing was on the wall for Lawal when the Suns drafted Morris at the same position. The two players have a lot of overlap in what they provide but Morris is considered a more polished offensive player with more range.
By cutting Lawal on Friday, the Suns avoid having his contract become guaranteed by making the training camp roster. Lawal should have time and plenty of opportunities to get on with another team looking for a high-character, athletic, tough-minded forward off the bench.
Carter, of course, has had a long and interesting NBA career. He came to the Suns in the trade with Orlando last year and was almost certainly destined to be waived. If the Suns didn't cut him, Vince would have been due $18 million for this season. The waiver comes with a $4 million prices tag. It's not yet clear if Carter, 34, will hang it up or if he will sign with a team looking for some bench scoring from the wing position.
Carter averaged 13.5 points per game with the Suns last season. He played in 51 games, starting 41 of them.