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. Last week, we checked out the five Northwest Division franchises, and now we’ll do the same for the Pacific:
- Metta World Peace
- Jabari Brown
- Tarik Black
- Robert Upshaw — $35K partial guarantee
- Marcelo Huertas
- Jonathan Holmes — $100K partial guarantee
- Michael Frazier — $50K partial guarantee
Analysis: An intriguing battle is going on for the purple-and-gold, who boast a mix of veterans and intriguing undrafted players among their camp invitees. Black, who made 39 starts last year, including 27 after joining the Lakers, seems like as safe a bet as any to stick. Huertas, a 32-year-old Brazilian point guard who comes by way of Spain, has impressed his teammates, but a strained right hamstring has kept him from seeing any preseason action. World Peace admits he’s not in shape but the team likes his mentorship of Julius Randle. Holmes would appear to have an economic advantage, given his partial guarantee is twice as large as anyone else’s. Upshaw offers high potential, but he carries baggage, too. The guess here is that Black, Holmes and either Upshaw or World Peace make it to opening night, but much remains up in the air.
Analysis: The Clippers would appear to have the one of the simplest camp battles in the entire league, with one open regular season spot and two players gunning for it. Hayes and Mbah a Moute have divergent games, with girth and muscle the hallmarks of Hayes’ career so far while Mbah a Moute’s attack is built more on athleticism. It could come down to the qualities the Clippers feel they need as opposed to the level of performance from either. They’ve seen roughly equivalent preseason playing time so far. It would cost the Clippers less than $1MM in cap hits to cut one of Dawson, Pablo Prigioni or Josh Smith if they wanted to keep both Hayes and Mbah a Moute, but that seems unlikely, especially since the Clippers are a tax team.
- Eric Moreland — $200K partial guarantee
- David Stockton
- Marshall Henderson — $35K partial guarantee
- Vince Hunter — $35K partial guarantee
Analysis: The Kings are notoriously hard to predict, but the organization seems to like Moreland, having signed him as an undrafted free agent last year and again this year a few weeks after waiving him to avoid guaranteeing his full salary. Vlade Divac has replaced Pete D’Alessandro as the top decision-maker in the front office since Moreland’s first signing, but he nonetheless wound up with a partial guarantee several times larger than anyone else on the team for this year’s camp. He leads all Kings camp invitees in minutes per game so far this preseason. Neither Henderson nor Hunter has made his way into a preseason game yet, suggesting their $35K partial guarantees were designed as enticements for them to sign with Sacramento’s D-League affiliate after an end-of-preseason cut from the NBA roster.
Analysis: Jefferson and Sims, both of whom were on NBA rosters all of last season, would appear to have the inside track on Casey and White, neither of whom has ever played an NBA regular season game. Sims, especially, seems in a strong position, having started 32 games for the Sixers in 2014/15. Jefferson is little more than a year removed from having been the final pick of the 2014 draft, though he cracked double-digit minutes per game, at 10.1, last year with the Nets. Both Sims and Jefferson can play power forward, as can Casey, though Phoenix’s need at that position is unclear with Markieff Morris having apparently gone back on his trade demand.
- Chris Babb
- Ian Clark
- Ben Gordon
- Jarell Eddie
- James Michael McAdoo — $100K partial guarantee
- Tony Mitchell
- Juwan Staten
Analysis: Steve Kerr is fond of McAdoo, and despite Kerr’s absence, McAdoo’s status as the only returning player among the seven Warriors without fully guaranteed salaries and his partial guarantee, the only one on the team, puts him in strong position. Golden State wants to add another shooter, and all but Mitchell offer at least some skill in that area. Clark, Gordon and Babb are the only ones to see preseason action so far, though Clark, Gordon and Eddie have sizable chunks of salary that lock in if they make the opening night roster, a financial disadvantage if the taxpaying Warriors want to have some flexibility early in the season.
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.