Can one man's trash be another man's treasure? What if the garbage man is the San Antonio Spurs, and the dumpster-diving treasure hunter is the New York Knicks? And what if the treasure hunter already has too much trash in his busted old shopping cart?
The Spurs released point guard Ray McCallum Monday to make room for Andre Miller, a player somehow older than Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But let us focus on the 24-year-old McCallum. The Knicks may have an open roster spot come Thursday when Jimmer Fredette's 10-day deal expires. Ty Lawson might be attractive to desperate, contending teams, but McCallum is the hottest guard on the current free agent market when it comes to teams looking toward the future (please be looking toward the future, Knicks).
New York cannot make a waiver claim on him, as they are over the cap and have no trade or injury exceptions:
Teams must have cap space or a trade/disability exception to claim Ray McCallum. Minimum cap hit for McCallum but on a 3 year contract.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 29, 2016
But what if McCallum clears waivers? Is the now ex-Spur worth a look?
McCallum is a three-year vet, having played his first two seasons with the Kings. He's got good size for a point guard (Triangle alert), but isn't terribly athletic. He's more of a score-first PG, and is somewhat adept at getting to the rim, but he hasn't shot the three well since his rookie season. He tries hard on defense, though not with great results.
Believe it or not, McCallum actually started three games for the 50-9 Spurs this season, which gives him the kind of pedigree the Knicks haven't had on their bench since, I dunno, Malik Rose? Maybe the Spurs were simply seduced by Andre Miller's grizzled old professorial ways and the lure of having an experienced reserve point guard in the playoffs.
Sadly, that may not be the case. Pounding the Rock's Michael Erler believed the Miller signing was brought on by the organization's disappointment in McCallum:
Sure, he's hardly played at all, and his opportunities have been sporadic, but he hasn't impressed at all in what few chances he's gotten. The former King hasn't shot it well from two or three, he didn't show much play-making chops, and his defense hasn't been as good as advertised. His advanced numbers were good in the three games he started in Parker's stead, but it sure seemed like [Gregg Popovich and the front office] found those performances lacking.
I haven't heard anything behind the scenes at all negative or critical in any way about McCallum, not even a rumor or gossip. He hasn't complained about all the time he was asked to spend in Austin playing in the D-League that I know of and always seemed supportive of his teammates on the bench as far as I've noticed. I've never gotten the sense that he's groused or agitated for minutes or anything along those lines. It's just bizarre, for a player R.C. Buford was so high on when the Spurs signed him, to fall out of favor so quickly and to not really even get much of a concrete chance with the franchise.
The preference here would be for the Knicks to simply play Jerian Grant all the minutes and punt on that 15th roster spot -- give it to Thanasis for his bench celebrations! -- but they could also sign McCallum and stash him in Westchester, if he and his agent are down for that sort of thing.
Personally, I will always have a soft spot for Ray McCallum, inasmuch as he appears in one of my favorite Pablo Prigioni headline photos. I certainly think he has more upside than Jimmer, anyway.