Marc Stein has compiled a list of 48 players on non-guaranteed contracts who must be waived before January 10, when all contracts become guaranteed for the season. And really, that means they must be waived by January 7, since they have to clear waivers by the 10th.
What does that have to do with the Clippers? Well, it's possible, though unlikely, that a big man worth a look could be looking for a job on the 10th. Unfortunately, we're probably talking about someone along the lines of Lou Amundson, whom the Clippers already passed on in pre-season, but there are other possibilities. Jeff Adrien? Hasheem Thabeet? Bear in mind, there's no guarantee that these guys are going to get waived, but it is a possibility.
More important than the potential waivees on other teams are the two Clippers on the list: Stephen Jackson and Maalik Wayns.
Wait? What? We knew about Jackson, but wasn't the guarantee date in Wayns' contract December 1st?
The short answer is, I don't know. It is true that December 1 was widely reported as being the guarantee date in Wayns contract. As a reminder, by rule within the collective bargaining agreement, all contracts become guaranteed for the season on January 10th; however, individual contracts can have different guarantee dates. In fact most NBA contracts are fully guaranteed so the guarantee date is irrelevant (or you could say the guarantee date is when they sign the contract). But some contracts become guaranteed at the start of the season, and any number of other dates is possible. The reporting on Wayns contract (on Storyteller, on Sham Sports, etc.) all specified a guarantee date of December 1.
Which would have been strange, for the second year of a contract for a late season pick up signed to a contract in late March of 2013 -- why would his agent be able to get him a better guarantee date than the one in the CBA? -- but that's what everything said.
Everything until now. Guarantee dates are always a little nebulous and this wouldn't be the first time one was reported incorrectly. If Stein is saying on December 27 -- almost four weeks after Wayns' supposed guarantee date -- that he's not currently on a guaranteed contract, then either the December 1 guarantee date or Stein is wrong. But I think Stein is probably correct. Why? Because while guarantee dates can be difficult to chase down, whether a contract is currently guaranteed is easier.
Which could be a nice bit of luck for the Clippers -- or could mean nothing at all. Remember that if the Clippers waive Wayns while he is injured, his contract becomes immediately guaranteed, regardless of his guarantee date. Wayns is getting close to healthy after meniscus surgery -- he tweeted "Itching to get back on the court can't wait!!!" a week ago. With a little less than two weeks until January 7, could Wayns possibly be fully healthy just in time to get waived? That would suck for him, but would free up some vital money for the Clippers.
As for Jackson, he has fallen out of the rotation with Matt Barnes' return to health -- and that's with J.J. Redick and Reggie Bullock still out. Yes, Jackson's value is more as a big three or a small ball four, but as of now Doc Rivers seems content to play either Barnes or Dudley in that role. My feeling on Jackson is that unless the Clippers have something bigger in mind involving trading one of the guaranteed guys, there's just not going to be room for Jackson.
Of course nothing would preclude the Clippers from bringing back Jackson (or Wayns for that matter) after waiving him, provided another team doesn't pick him up. So stay tuned: the Clippers are going to want a roster spot at some point, so they'll almost certainly make at least one move in the next two weeks, even if that move is simply to waive a player or two.
[Note by Steve Perrin, 12/28/13 1:00 AM PST ] Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld reminds me that guarantee dates can be postponed by mutual agreement between the parties. So it's probable that December 1st was indeed in Wayns' contract, but he, his agent an the Clippers negotiated to move that date back. Why would Wayns agree to such a thing, when it increases the likelihood that he could be waived this season and miss out on almost two thirds of his season's salary? Wayns is a 22 year old who would like to play in the NBA beyond this season -- if he works with the Clippers here he will be seen as a team player, and they will likely not forget that in the future. Other teams will know this happened as well. For a guy who figures to be fighting for the 14th or 15th spot on NBA rosters for a few years, every little bit counts. Taking a fair approach to his current situation could be viewed as an investment in his NBA future.