The Clippers traded reserve point guard Jared Cunningham and an undisclosed amount of cash to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday in a move that created roster space and saved the Clippers money under the hard salary cap.
The 76ers subsequently waived Cunningham, who had averaged 1.8 points and 0.5 assists in 19 games this season.
The teams also swapped the rights to former second-round draft picks who play overseas, with the Clippers receiving the rights to center Serhiy Lishchuk and the 76ers getting the rights to guard Cenk Akyol.
The trade removed nearly $400,000 from the Clippers' salary cap and will prevent them from having to pay associated luxury taxes. It also opened a roster spot for a team trying to upgrade a bench that has drastically underachieved with the exception of shooting guard Jamal Crawford.
The Clippers bench entered Wednesday averaging 32.3 points per game, ranking 19th in the NBA.
Rivers said it was difficult telling Cunningham, a former first-round draft pick who showed poise, that he was being traded.
“I'm a big fan of Jared, not only as a player but as a kid,” Rivers said. “I think he's going to be a player in this league at some point and that's tough for a coach whenever you tell a player that you're moving him.”
The Clippers opted to activate the rookie for their game against the Lakers on Wednesday to provide depth after trading Cunningham. But Wilcox is expected to depart Thursday for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, with whom he is expected to play five games before returning to the Clippers.
The first-round draft pick had appeared in only three games for the Clippers before Wednesday, averaging 3.0 points and 0.7 assists in 3.7 minutes per game. He scored two points after entering the game against the Lakers.
Wilcox said earlier he welcomed the opportunity to show the Clippers what he was capable of doing in a pro game.
“It's hard to get a coach's trust when you don't practice and you're not playing,” Wilcox said. “We've been doing plenty of workouts but it's just a different feel when you actually play in the game as opposed to one on one or three on three or something like that.”
Rivers has been reluctant to use the D-League for young players, in part because the Clippers are not directly affiliated with a team. The Clippers last assigned a player to the D-League in March 2012 when they sent Travis Leslie to the Bakersfield Jam.
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