We've been remiss in discussing the Maalik Wayns situation around here. In case you missed it, Wayns, the second year point guard who finished the season with the Los Angeles Clippers last year and is battling for one of the final roster spots this year, was injured Monday night in the pre-season game in Sacramento.
Now, we should not make light of an injury to a person whose livelihood absolutely depends on his physical health. But the latest news is about as positive as injury news can get for an individual, and in the end it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Maalik.
First of all, if you were watching the Prime Ticket broadcast of the Phoenix game on Tuesday night, you may have heard that it was a torn MCL. That is incorrect. Wayns' injury is to the meniscus in his left knee, a far less serious injury. According to a report from Marc Spears, the current plan is to repair the meniscus. So that's good news for Wayns right there, at least as compared to some of the alternatives like ligament damage or removal of the meniscus.
But it gets better.
Wayns was on an unguaranteed contract, battling for one of the final two roster spots. The Clippers are very deep in the backcourt, and although they only have two true point guards, with players like Willie Green and Jamal Crawford capable of running the point in a pinch, it seemed likely that the team would opt to keep an additional big man, either Lou Amundson or Brandon Davies. The Clippers like Wayns a lot, and he's been a part of the team since last season and is tight with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and all that is well and good -- but before Monday, my money was on Wayns being a casualty of limited roster spots and the hard cap.
However, the team cannot waive Wayns while he's injured with an injury suffered playing basketball while he was under contract -- or more to the point, if they do that his contract becomes guaranteed.
And it gets more interesting. The guarantee date for Wayns' contract is December 1; according to Spears' report, his surgery will likely happen next week and the expected recovery period is six weeks. So let's see, if he has the surgery on Monday, October 21st, six weeks from then is ... December 2nd. Welcome to your guaranteed contract Maalik (provided you're not an extra fast healer)!
This is all back of the envelope, based on the information at hand kind of stuff. (I double checked with Larry Coon and Eric Pincus, the two smartest cap guys I know, and my thanks to each of them for helping out.) Everything is negotiable, and maybe there's something I'm missing in all of this. The fact that Wayns should be back to playing basketball in December or January is unmitigated good news -- he seems to be a solid third string point guard, fully capable of running the team for stretches when either Paul or Darren Collison is hurt this season, as they undoubtedly will be at one time or another.
But if I'm right, and Wayns is for all intents and purposes now the team's 14th guaranteed contract, it is very bad news for Davies and Amundson, and further limits what the Clippers can do going forward. I would be very surprised if the team carries the maximum 15 contracts out of training camp simply because they'll want to keep a roster spot open to make opportunistic moves during the season. Davies has a very small guaranteed amount in his contract ($50K) so they could conceivably keep him and eat whatever salary he has earned if they cut him later to free up a roster spot. But with the hard cap drawing ever nearer, literally every dollar will count, so the idea of keeping a player who you think you might cut later is problematic.
Stay tuned. I'll have more on the cap and roster ramifications of the Wayns injury in the coming days.