The Washington Wizards made a surprising move just hours before players who are bought out can still be eligible to sign to play in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The team has waived small forward Al Thornton, according to a press release.
"The additions of Rashard Lewis and Mo Evans combined with Josh Howard's return from injury gave us a logjam at the small forward spot," said general manager Ernie Grunfeld. "Coming to terms on a contract buyout with Al was mutually beneficial, as it allows us to clear space in the rotation and allows him the chance to pursue an opportunity with another team."
It's not yet clear whether Thornton sacrificed any money on his buyout, but Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports that Thornton was unhappy in D.C. Thornton's salary is for $2.8 million this year, according to Sham Sports. Had he remained with the team, he would have been a restricted free agent this summer. The Wizards would have had to pick up a $3.9 million qualifying offer to have a chance at re-signing him. Instead, the Wizards avoid having to make that decision.
Thornton had been averaging eight points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 49 games for the Wizards this season.