NBA Teams With Full Rosters

While NBA teams are limited to carrying 15 players on their regular-season rosters (with a few exceptions), roster limits expand to 20 players during the offseason. The five extra roster slots allow clubs to bring in veterans hopeful of earning a place on the regular-season roster, or young players who may eventually be ticketed for D-League assignments.

Most teams will fill up their 20-man rosters for training camp, but at this point in the NBA offseason, it can be difficult to determine which clubs still have room on their rosters. Many potential camp invitees have reportedly reached agreements with teams, but those signings haven’t yet been officially announced.

By our count, there are currently just two team at the 20-man offseason roster limit. One is the 76ers, who were at the 20-man limit for much of the offseason before waiving Carl Landry and Tibor Pleiss. Since then, they’ve added Elton Brand and Cat Barber, though it appears only 11 of the club’s 20 players have fully guaranteed salaries for 2016/17.

Meanwhile, on their official website, the Nuggets list 14 players who have guaranteed contracts, plus Axel Toupane, JaKarr Sampson, and D.J. Kennedy, who are on non-guaranteed or partially-guaranteed deals. In addition to those 17 players, the team has also reportedly reached agreements with Nate Wolters, Robbie Hummel, and Jarnell Stokes, bringing Denver’s total roster count to 20.

Still, not all of Denver’s signings are official, and even once they are, the Nuggets could easily make room for another player by cutting a non-guaranteed salary from their books. The same can be said for Philadelphia. While their rosters may technically be “full,” it’s not as if the Nuggets and the Sixers don’t have the flexibility to replace a camp invitee with a veteran free agent, if they so choose.

A more productive way of determining which teams’ rosters are “full” at this point in the offseason might be to examine the number of guaranteed salaries on their books. The deadline for teams to stretch the 2016/17 salary of a waived player is now behind us, so any team that cuts a player with a guaranteed salary won’t be able to reduce that cap hit unless the player agrees to a buyout. Most teams are reluctant to add much dead money to their cap with such a move, so if a club has 15 guaranteed contracts on its cap, we can assume its regular-season roster is fairly set, barring a trade or a surprise cut.

Here are the NBA teams that currently have 15 (or more) guaranteed salaries on their roster:

Atlanta Hawks

  • Roster count: 17 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: If the Hawks want to waive or trade a player with a guaranteed contract, Walter Tavares and his $1MM salary are probably the most expendable. The fact that Atlanta has no D-League affiliate makes it trickier to develop a young player like Tavares. Still, the big man was solid in Summer League play, and I’d be surprised if the Hawks gave up on him at this point.

Boston Celtics

  • Roster count: 18 players; 16 guaranteed
  • Notes: A trade remains a possibility for the Celtics, who could try to package some of their assets in a deal for an impact player. Still, Danny Ainge has been unable to find a suitable match to this point, so Boston probably shouldn’t bank on making a major move. Instead, the team may end up trading or waiving one of their players with a guaranteed contract in order to get down to 15 — James Young could be on the outs if the team wants to keep young players like R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Roster count: 19 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Nets are in full-on rebuilding mode, and many of their players are new additions, so the club’s 15-man roster looks pretty set. Still, Brooklyn is well below the minimum salary floor, so if one of the team’s camp invitees puts on a show during the preseason, it wouldn’t be a problem to cut someone on a guaranteed contract to make room.

Indiana Pacers

  • Roster count: 19 players; 16 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Pacers’ signing of Kevin Seraphin this week was a perfect example of how teams with 15 guaranteed salaries aren’t necessarily out of the running for veteran free agents. In Indiana’s case, the move looks like it could be bad news for Jeremy Evans — the Mavericks paid the Pacers $3.2MM to take Evans’ contract, so eating his $1.227MM salary wouldn’t exactly be a bitter pill to swallow for Indiana.

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Roster count: 15 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Clippers filled out the back of the roster by signing veterans like Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights, Brandon Bass, and Alan Anderson to minimum-salary contracts, and they likely wouldn’t hesitate to add another veteran if the opportunity arises. For now though, their 15-man roster appears set.

Miami Heat

  • Roster count: 19 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Heat’s decision to sign Beno Udrih to a guaranteed contract after completing most of their other offseason business was an interesting one, since it means Briante Weber is now on the outside looking in.

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Roster count: 19 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Bucks could very well enter the season with their current 15-man roster, but Greg Monroe remains a bit of a wild card. Monroe doesn’t seem to be in Milwaukee’s future plans, but the team may have a hard time finding an acceptable trade for Monroe as the regular season approaches.

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Roster count: 17 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: Like the Bucks, the Timberwolves could easily open the regular season with their roster consisting of their 15 players on guaranteed contracts. However, we should probably write that roster in pencil, not pen. Kevin Garnett has yet to make an official announcement on his NBA future, and trade rumors continue to swirl around Ricky Rubio. There’s a pretty good chance both players are still Wolves on opening night, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Roster count: 18 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Pelicans have reportedly been continuing to monitor the free agent market for backcourt help, eyeing players like Lance Stephenson and Ty Lawson. That’s not a surprise, since both Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are expected to miss the start of the season. But it does raise some questions about which player would be the odd man out from the current 15-man group. Terrence Jones and Alonzo Gee, who each signed new deals this summer, are the only players in that group who have modest salaries and no guaranteed money owed to them beyond this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Roster count: 17 players; 15 guaranteed
  • Notes: The Thunder essentially added a 16th guaranteed contract last week when they acquired Joffrey Lauvergne from the Nuggets — Lauvergne’s salary has a significant partial guarantee, and the Thunder wouldn’t have given up two second-round picks for him if they intended to waive him. What does that mean for the rest of the roster? Will Mitch McGary be traded or waived? Is OKC looking to move someone like Enes Kanter or Ersan Ilyasova? Stay tuned.

In addition to the 10 teams listed above, there are a handful of teams that aren’t technically carrying 15 guaranteed salaries, but whose rosters nonetheless look easy to predict. The Lakers, for instance, have 14 guaranteed contracts plus Yi Jianlian. The Kings have 14 guaranteed deals plus Ty Lawson. And Jeff Withey figures to join the 14 players with guaranteed salaries on the Jazz‘s roster.

With so many NBA teams already lining up probable opening-day rosters, options may be dwindling for this year’s remaining free agents. It will be interesting to see over the next few weeks how many of those notable veteran free agents can find guaranteed NBA roster spots, how many will have to compete for jobs, and how many end up heading overseas for more security.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

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