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Sunday, March 1, 2009
Updated: March 2, 4:48 AM ET
Veteran forward Smith, Thunder split

ESPN.com news services

Good teams seem to want Joe Smith.

Smith
Smith

The veteran forward and the Oklahoma City Thunder reached agreement on a buyout of his contract on Sunday, and The Clevaland Plain Dealer reported that the Cavaliers will try to sign him immediately after he clears waivers.

The move comes about a week after Smith was shipped to the New Orleans Hornets in a trade for Tyson Chandler. The Thunder then rejected Chandler for medical reasons and Smith was returned.

He had to be waived by the NBA's Sunday night deadline to be eligible for the playoffs with another team. The Plain Dealer reported that Smith should clear waivers on Wednesday and that the Cavs will then pounce on the free agent. He could suit up Wednesday night against the Bucks.

Smith was coveted by a number of teams because of his experience and the fact that he has a $4.8 million expiring contract. Cleveland's need became greater when Ben Wallace went down Friday with a broken leg. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

The San Antonio Spurs were also reportedly interested in Smith, but the Cavs can offer a prorated share of its midlevel exception totaling about $3.5 million. The Spurs can only come up with about $1.5 million.

Smith is averaging 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in his only season with Oklahoma City. He hasn't played in the last eight games after being a regular in the rotation earlier in the season.

"This allows us the roster flexibility to look to add pieces. I feel like having Malik [Rose], Chucky [Atkins] and Desmond [Mason] continues to give us a veteran presence," Thunder general manager Sam Presti told The Associated Press. "Right now, a lot of the minutes in our frontcourt are being used up by some of our young guys."

The 6-foot-10 forward has averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds over 14 seasons and with nine teams.

This would be the second stint with the Cavs for the former No. 1 overall pick in the draft. He played 27 games for Cleveland last season after being traded with Ben Wallace by the Chicago Bulls. The Thunder traded for him in August.

"This was something that was brought to us by Joe and his representatives," Presti said. "We were able to reach an agreement that will allow him to pursue another opportunity."

Information from The Associated Press, ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher and ESPN.com's Marc Stein was used in this report.