The chances of Boris Diaw not finishing the season with the Charlotte Bobcats are growing, with his agent inquiring about a buyout that would free Diaw to sign elsewhere.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins told the Observer Tuesday that he met with Diaw before the All-Star break about Diaw's role and his expiring contract. Higgins said he has since had discussions with Diaw's agent, Doug Neustadt.
"Boris and I had a meeting prior to the All-Star break, maybe Wednesday before. We talked about quite a few things,'' Higgins said. "The issue with the buyout, it was raised on their side, from Doug. We haven't gone down that road any further.''
Initial attempts to reach Neustadt by telephone and email Tuesday failed. The possibility of Diaw accepting a buyout was briefly raised in the French sports daily L'Equipe. Diaw is from France.
Under a buyout, Diaw would agree to reduce his remaining guarantee by some number, in return for the Bobcats waiving him in time for him to sign elsewhere and be playoff-eligible on a new roster. Diaw would have to be waived by March 23 for that to happen.
Diaw is the Bobcats' second-highest paid player at $9 million, and his contract expires after this season. He hasn't had much impact this season and briefly lost his starting spot at power forward. He's averaging 7.7 points, the first time in his three seasons with the Bobcats he's failed to average double figures.
After Diaw took just four shots in 40 minutes against the New Jersey Nets Sunday, coach Paul Silas said invariably when Diaw passes up shots, some teammate ends up with an inferior shot.
With the Bobcats winning just four of their first 33 games and long out of playoff contention, it appears likely Silas would turn to younger power forwards Tyrus Thomas and D.J. White over Diaw the rest of the season.
However, any serious discussion of buying out Diaw's contract makes no sense until the NBA trade deadline expires March 15.
"No question,'' Higgins confirmed. "Those conversations, if they happen, would happen after the deadline.''
Diaw's expiring contract means he has some trade value, particularly to a contender who would effectively rent him the rest of the season. However, trading Diaw could be problematic since it's unlikely a team could absorb his salary under NBA trade rules without sending a similar salary to the Bobcats.
The Bobcats are committed to maintaining salary-cap flexibility next summer. They could be as much as $21 million under the cap when free-agency starts in July. They would be looking for a draft choice or a young player if they were to trade Diaw.
Asked if he'd like to be traded, or would be receptive to a buyout, Diaw was noncommittal Tuesday morning.
"We don't control that,'' Diaw said of trade possibilities. "Everybody wants to make the playoffs and win, but there is some work to do here, too. We can get this team to be better, and right now I'm trying to do that.''