Just over two weeks ago, I wrote that we could expect in the neighborhood of 100 roster cuts by NBA teams before opening night. At that point, 538 players were on NBA rosters. Today, just 443 players remain under contract. If you’ve been following Hoops Rumors closely, you know which players are currently on the waiver wire and which new names on the free agent market. If not, you can browse through our transactions log for the highlights.
While most teams have made their cuts, there are still a couple clubs with moves on the way. As our roster count page shows, the Wizards and Rockets are still carrying 18 and 17 players, respectively, so those two teams will have to trim down to 15 (or less) by Monday at 4:00 pm central time.
It appears likely that the Wizards will release three players they acquired yesterday, in Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, and Malcolm Lee. All 18 players on Washington’s roster are on fully guaranteed contracts, so unless the team can find a creative trade in the next day or two, it will eat a good chunk of salary.
The Rockets, meanwhile, don’t have two obvious candidates to be released. Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith are on non-guaranteed deals, but both players figure to be part of Houston’s rotation this season. Perhaps Ronnie Brewer and Reggie Williams, who are both on partially guaranteed contracts, will be the odd men out, but we shouldn’t rule out a last-minute trade either. After all, it was on the Saturday night before the regular season a year ago that Daryl Morey landed James Harden.
Even after the Wizards and Rockets make their cuts, there will still be plenty of players around the league on non-guaranteed deals, as our complete list shows. Not all of those players will last the full season — the majority of their contracts will become fully guaranteed on January 10th, so many will be released before then, saving their teams some money. Our schedule of guarantee dates reveals the handful of players whose contracts are set to become guaranteed before January, including a few guys who will be in line for full guarantees after lasting until opening night.
Although nearly all of the players waived this week will clear waivers, it’s still worth keeping an eye on teams who may make claims. As Chuck Myron outlined earlier this month, waiver claims can be a part of preseason strategy, so it’s possible we’ll see one or two October standouts snatched up by a rival club. As we explain in our glossary, teams who have sufficient cap space or big enough trade exceptions can claim players. Players who were signed using the minimum salary exception can also be claimed by any team using that same minimum salary exception.