Hoops Rumors will be taking a team-by-team look at the battles for regular season roster spots going on around the NBA this month, the last before rosters shrink from the offseason limit of 20 to the 15-man regular season maximum. We’ve already checked out the Northwest and Pacific division franchises, and now we’ll complete the Western Conference with a look at the Southwest Division:
15 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Salah Mejri — $525,093)
- Brandon Ashley — $50K partial guarantee
- Jarrid Famous — $10K partial guarantee
- JaVale McGee — $500K partial guarantee
- Dwight Powell
- Jamil Wilson — $50K partial guarantee
Analysis: McGee is apparently unlikely to be healthy enough to play in time for opening night, but that hasn’t seemed to doom his chances at a regular season roster spot. Instead, it appears the team is banking on his upside, and with $500K partially guaranteed, that puts McGee on roughly equal financial footing with Mejri and Maurice Ndour, who has only one more dollar on his salary than Mejri does. John Jenkins, Charlie Villanueva and Samuel Dalembert each have full guarantees of less than $1MM, so they’d be vulnerable if one of the other camp invitees makes a push. Jenkins and Villanueva are so far leading the Mavs in preseason minutes per game.
- Sampson Carter
- Yahkouba Diawara
- JaMychal Green — $150K partial guarantee
- Ryan Hollins
- Lazeric Jones
- Alex Stepheson
Analysis: Green’s partial guarantee and status as the lone holdover from last season among the camp invitees ostensibly makes him the favorite here. Still, Hollins knows his way around the NBA, and he surely didn’t join the team with just the D-League in mind. Hollins, along with Diawara, a fellow veteran, have been seeing in excess of 10 minutes a night in the preseason so far. Green and Jones have, too, so Memphis is at least giving most of its camp invitees a shot. Carter and Stepheson are new additions since the start of camp, having replaced Dan Nwaelele and Michael Holyfield.
Analysis: The Rockets added a player to the mix Monday when they claimed Arsalan Kazemi off waivers, but he probably doesn’t change the equation much here. That the Rockets will carry a 15th player at all is in doubt because the team is less than $2MM shy of its hard cap of $88.74MM, which it triggered when it signed Montrezl Harrell last month. That said, Smith is averaging 7.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game across two preseason appearances so far, so he’s making a strong impression, particularly on the boards.
13 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Jonathan Simmons — $525,093)
- Matt Bonner — $749,594
- Rasual Butler
- Jimmer Fredette — $507,711
- Youssou Ndoye
- Keifer Sykes
- Deshaun Thomas
- Reggie Williams
Analysis: The sizable partial guarantees for Bonner and Fredette ostensibly make it their competition to lose, but if the Spurs were 100% sold on them, they would have given them full guarantees, so much depends on what happens this month. Bonner and Fredette are a combined 0 for 6 from the floor in their limited preseason action so far, and for players who depend so heavily on their outside shooting, that doesn’t bode well for them. Butler, meanwhile, shot 5 for 7 and made both of his three-point attempts in his only preseason game to date this fall.
- Jeff Adrien
- Chris Douglas-Roberts
- Jerome Jordan
- Sean Kilpatrick
- Corey Webster
- Bryce Dejean-Jones — $50K partial guarantee
Analysis: Injuries to Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Norris Cole have thrown the preseason into flux for New Orleans. It’s unclear how long Cole will be out, and Asik could be back before the start of the regular season, so how just how quickly they return will be key. Adrien and Jordan are the only big men among the camp invitees for the Pelicans, and Jordan the only true center, so each has at least a decent chance to stick, given that Asik and Ajinca are the team’s top two centers. The rest of the camp invitees are wing players, though they could come in handy if Cole has to miss significant time and the Pelicans decide to play Tyreke Evans more at point guard.
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.