Players face a daunting challenge when they arrive at NBA training camps without guaranteed money on their contracts. Most teams enter October with all but one or two of the spots on their opening-night rosters already spoken for. Camp invitees can occasionally convince a team to eat a guaranteed contract to open up an extra spot, as was the case with Charlie Villanueva and the Mavericks this year, but for the most part, regular season jobs are limited to those who proved their worth long before the preseason began.
Still, Villanueva is one of more than a dozen NBA players who remain on NBA rosters after signing non-guaranteed contracts in the offseason. Villanueva is like most such players in that he has extensive NBA experience. Few rookies made it to opening night on non-guaranteed deals, in part because teams often slip nominal partial guarantees of $100K or less to younger players to entice them sign on the premise that they’ll be cut and end up with the team’s D-League affiliate. That’s often a less lucrative route for those players than signing overseas would be, so the extra cash of a partial guarantee helps offset that difference.
Knicks longshot Travis Wear might be the most notorious of this year’s training camp long shots who stuck around for the regular season, but his $62K guarantee keeps him off the list below. The same is true for Rockets rookie Tarik Black, who’s surprisingly emerged as Dwight Howard‘s backup. There had been some confusion about whether his contract was partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed, but multiple sources tell Hoops Rumors that Black’s salary is partially guaranteed for $50K this season.
Long-tenured veterans rarely end up in the D-League, so they aren’t usually afforded the same small guarantees given to rookies or players with limited NBA experience. Still, there are a few rookies who are on NBA rosters without guaranteed salary, including Joe Ingles, who appeared to have come up short in his quest to make it to opening night before the Jazz claimed him off waivers from the Clippers. K.J. McDaniels, the 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft, had a leg up on most non-guaranteed rookies, given his draft position, and he’s only on a non-guaranteed deal because he signed Philadelphia’s required tender after rejecting a long-term deal from the club.
Alonzo Gee‘s salary is fully guaranteed, but it was non-guaranteed throughout the preseason as he battled to remain on the Nuggets roster. The same was true for Nets center Jerome Jordan, who earned a $100K partial guarantee when he stuck around. Those two are on this list, but A.J. Price isn’t. Price made it to opening night on his non-guaranteed contract with the Cavs, but he didn’t last much longer, as Cleveland cut him loose to sign Will Cherry this weekend. Players who signed prior to this past offseason on multiyear deals that included non-guaranteed salary for 2014/15 don’t appear on this list, either, owing to the benefit that incumbency gave them on their newly signed teammates.
Caveats aside, here are the players who are still on NBA rosters after signing non-guaranteed deals this summer:
- Louis Amundson, Cavaliers
- Shannon Brown, Heat
- Rasual Butler, Wizards
- Jared Cunningham, Clippers
- Andre Dawkins, Heat
- Wayne Ellington, Lakers
- Alonzo Gee, Nuggets
- Joe Ingles, Jazz
- Jerome Jordan, Nets
- K.J. McDaniels, Sixers
- Jason Maxiell, Hornets
- Nazr Mohammed, Bulls
- Ronnie Price, Lakers
- Lance Thomas, Thunder
- Charlie Villanueva, Mavericks