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. First, we’ll check out the five Northwest Division franchises:
- Jack Cooley
- Bryce Cotton
- Treveon Graham — $75K partial guarantee
- Christapher Johnson
- Elijah Millsap
- J.J. O’Brien — $75K partial guarantee
- Jeff Withey — $200K partial guarantee
Analysis: Utah’s opening night roster is tough to predict. Withey ostensibly seems as safe a bet as any among the seven without full guarantees, given his $200K partial guarantee and his status as a recent former second-round pick. Graham and O’Brien have partial guarantees, too, but theirs seem more like enticements to sign with Utah’s D-League affiliate after an end-of-preseason release from the NBA roster. The guess here is that Cotton gets the nod, since the Jazz only have two other healthy pure point guards, but the team could go in a different direction if it decides it’s OK with Alec Burks handling some point guard duties.
Analysis: Green was a second-round pick in 2013 and Denver signed him just last year, so it’s somewhat surprising the Nuggets put the squeeze on him when they inked Miller, whom the team almost certainly won’t release. The Nuggets don’t have anyone among their 15 full guarantees whom they’d owe less than $1.5MM in the event of a waiver, so it would appear that if Green is to make the regular season roster, a trade will have to take place.
Analysis: No real competition exists here, as no obvious cut candidate exists among the 15 fully guaranteed players. Stone, the only camp invitee with NBA regular season experience, holds some intrigue, but he, like the other three with non-guaranteed contracts, seems destined for the Thunder’s D-League team.
- Lorenzo Brown — $75K partial guarantee
- Kleon Penn
- Nick Wiggins
Analysis: The Wolves made it easier on themselves when they completed a buyout deal with Anthony Bennett, since they had 16 full guarantees prior to that. It would be odd to see them waive either Miller or Prince, since they just signed them this summer, or offseason trade acquisition Damjan Rudez, who has the next lowest amount of guaranteed money coming his way, so Brown, a holdover from last season and 2013 second-round pick, is in a tough spot. He probably saved his spot on the camp roster when he adjusted the amount of partially guaranteed money that was to kick in on certain offseason dates. His contract originally called for him to have locked in $375K if he were still on the roster at this point, a price Minnesota likely wasn’t willing to pay. The affiliate of the Pistons owns Brown’s D-League rights, further complicating any future he might have with the Wolves organization.
- Cliff Alexander — $100K partial guarantee
- Tim Frazier
- Omari Johnson
- Luis Montero — $100K partial guarantee
- Phil Pressey
Analysis: So much is unsettled in Portland, and that extends to the opening night roster. The partial guarantees to Alexander and Montero give them an advantage, but $100K isn’t much, and if either of them fails to impress this month, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them hit waivers. Frazier is averaging 19.4 minutes per game in the team’s two preseason contests thus far, and he has incumbency on his side. Pressey’s right behind him with 18.7 MPG, and he looked sharp at times the past two seasons with the Celtics. The playing time that Frazier and Pressey are getting might be the product of a desire on the part of the team to see if one or the other distinguishes himself, since they’re both point guards, and the Blazers already have Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum at the position.
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.