Battle For Roster Spots: Atlantic Division

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 NorthwestPacificSouthwest and Central division franchises, and now we’ll look at the Atlantic:


13 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Cleanthony Early — $845,059)

Non-guaranteed players

Analysis: Galloway, who started half of New York’s regular season games last year and is leading the team in preseason minutes per game, would appear to have a tight grip on a regular season spot, so the preseason seems to be a matter of five players battling for one job. Antetokounmpo is a slight favorite, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, who nonetheless suggests that his paltry two minutes of play in the preseason so far doesn’t bode well for his chances. Still, none of the other Knicks without full guarantees, save for Galloway, have seen more than three minutes total in the preseason, so it’s tough to judge the competition based on that.


13 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Markel Brown — $845,059)

Non-guaranteed players

Analysis: No one who’s seen action in the preseason for the Nets so far has played fewer minutes than Reed, who suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb in his lone preseason appearance Wednesday, necessitating surgery, the team announced. It’s a six-to-eight week timeframe for his recovery, the team revealed today via press release. Reed has the team’s largest partial guarantee, and it covers about half of his full season’s salary. Since Reed won’t be out too long, the Nets can cut him without risking more than the $500K he already has coming if they want to. Aside from the concern over Reed, Brooklyn only has two point guards with fully guaranteed deals, suggesting that Sloan and Boatright are going head-to-head for a job on opening night, but power forward Justin Harper has seen more playing time than either of them this month.


16 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: James Young — $1,749,840; Jordan Mickey and R.J. Hunter have smaller salaries for this season, but their contracts include guarantees for 2016/17, too.)

Non-guaranteed players

  • Coty Clarke
  • Malcolm Miller — $25K partial guarantee
  • Levi Randolph — $25K partial guarantee
  • Corey Walden — $25K partial guarantee

Analysis: The Celtics are one of just two NBA teams with more fully guaranteed contracts than regular season roster spots, so they’re under pressure to either swing a trade or eat a significant chunk of money. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe speculated to us recently that Jones is probably the most likely of the 16 with fully guaranteed contracts to hit waivers between now and opening night. Jones, due more than $2.038MM in the final season of his rookie contract, missed some time this month to deal with a death in the family and has scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in a scant 17 total minutes spread over two preseason appearances so far. His status as a player on an expiring contract might work against him, since even though four Celtics have cheaper guarantees, three of them are players the Celtics just drafted this June and all four have contracts that carry beyond this season. Young is only guaranteed a salary for this season, but the C’s have a team option on him for 2016/17.


12 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Pierre Jackson — $750,000)

Non-guaranteed players

Analysis: The Sixers roster is a jumble, though that’s nothing new. Still, a few clues exist. Covington is far more likely to end up in the starting lineup than on the waiver wire, and Thompson probably falls in that category, too. Both are among the top four Sixers in minutes per game during the preseason. Injuries to guards Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten complicate the picture for a team already short at the point, so that bodes well for McConnell, an undrafted rookie who’s averaging 20.3 MPG so far, as well as Jackson, who has the smallest full guarantee. McRae, Sampson, Wilbekin and Wood are all averaging double-figure minutes, but Tokoto has only received 5.3 MPG across two appearances.


15 full guarantees (Smallest full guarantee: Anthony Bennett — $947,276; Norman Powell has a smaller salary for this season, but his salary for next season is guaranteed, too.)

Non-guaranteed players

Analysis: The Bennett signing took any real suspense out of the competition for the regular season roster in Toronto. He’s the only player with a full guarantee who wouldn’t cost the Raptors either two fully guaranteed seasons or at least $2.5MM to waive, and he’s almost certainly not going anywhere. The partial guarantees for Kyser, Roberts, Scott and Toupane appear to be enticements for them to sign with the new one-to-one D-League affiliate of the Raptors following end-of-preseason cuts.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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