As I’ve outlined before, the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows NBA teams to carry up to 20 players during the offseason, a rule that many clubs have taken advantage of this fall. However, teams must reduce their rosters to 15 players in time for opening night, meaning several dozen players currently on NBA rosters will be looking for work by the end of the month.
Currently, by our count, the league’s 30 teams are carrying a total of 538 players. Taking into account all the roster moves happening this month, that number is in flux, and will likely change by the end of the day. But considering a maximum of 450 players can be on NBA rosters during the regular season, that current figure means that at least 88 players will be cut within the next two or three weeks.
Of course, some NBA teams won’t carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season. Considering the 14th and 15th players on rosters rarely see the court (except perhaps in the D-League), it’s no surprise that not every club wants to carry the maximum. Teams are required to carry at least 13 players, but some front offices prefer to keep a spot or two open, either to save some money or to create additional flexibility. That means those 88 cuts to come represent the minimum — the actual number could easily end up exceeding 100.
Every year, there are a handful of surprising names released before the season begins, but for the most part, the players waived will be camp invitees or guys owed little or no guaranteed money. As our list of NBA roster counts shows, only the Suns currently have more than 15 fully guaranteed contracts, so most teams shouldn’t be on the hook for much money owed to released players.
Here are a few more things to consider as the deadline for 15-man rosters approaches:
- The Sixers, Trail Blazers, and Warriors are believed to be carrying more than 15 contracts that are either fully or partially guaranteed. So, barring any trades, those clubs will have to eat at least a little salary when they make cuts.
- The Bulls and Pistons are currently the only teams with 15 or fewer players on their respective rosters, so they won’t necessarily need to make any moves. I’d expect the tax-conscious Bulls to start the season with just 13 or 14 players though.
- The Sixers, Cavs, Hawks, Heat, Jazz, Knicks, and Mavericks are all at the preseason 20-man limit, so those clubs still have to waive at least five players.
- As noted above, players on non-guaranteed contracts are the most likely candidates to be released this month. You can check out our complete list of partially guaranteed and non-guaranteed players right here.