Near the start of the 2016/17 campaign, we looked ahead and highlighted several dates and deadlines to watch on the NBA calendar throughout the rest of the season. While that list covered the general highlights, it’s worth taking a closer look, with January around the corner, at some of those key dates to keep an eye out for over the next month. Let’s dive in…
Non-guaranteed contracts becoming guaranteed:
January 10 is the date that all non-guaranteed salaries for 2016/17 will officially become guaranteed, but January 7 is really the day to watch. If a team wants to avoid having a salary become guaranteed, the player must clear waivers before January 10, which means he needs to be cut by January 7, at the latest.
Plenty of players without fully guaranteed salaries are in no danger of being waived within the next eight days, but several teams will take the opportunity to save a little money and open up a roster spot. We’ve already seen the Spurs do it with Nicolas Laprovittola and the Bulls do it with R.J. Hunter.
Here’s the full list of players on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts, sorted by team and by position. It’s also worth noting that two Grizzlies players – Vince Carter and JaMychal Green – will have their 2016/17 salaries become guaranteed a little early, on January 1.
Teams can sign players to 10-day contracts:
Around the same time that many NBA clubs will be opening up a roster spot by waiving a non-guaranteed salary, teams will also be able to use those newly-created openings to sign players to 10-day contracts. Those 10-day deals, which can be signed as of January 5, give teams the opportunity to pick up a short-term injury replacement, or perhaps to get a brief look at a standout D-League player.
We have extensively outlined the details of 10-day contracts and explained how they work in our glossary entry on the subject.
More players becoming trade-eligible:
A huge percentage of the NBA’s offseason signees became eligible to be traded on December 15, but there are still many players who can’t be dealt. By the end of January, that list of players ineligible to be traded will shrink further, since there are two dozen players currently on track to have those restrictions lift this month.
January 15 is the key date, as 21 players will become trade-eligible as of that Sunday. That includes players who aren’t going anywhere, like LeBron James, Mike Conley, and DeMar DeRozan, but there are a handful of players on that list that could be involved in trade rumors in 2017 — the Trail Blazers, for instance, are likely to make at least one deal in the coming months, and they’ll have Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard become trade-eligible on January 15.
The Blazers will have one more player become eligible to be dealt this month, in C.J. McCollum — the young guard will have his trade restrictions lifted on January 27, six months after he signed his extension. James Harden (January 9) and Ryan Kelly (January 31) also have unique trade-eligible dates next month.
Medical retirement for Nikola Pekovic?
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic has been ruled out for the entire 2016/17 season due to injuries, and he admitted this week that his health problems may force him into early retirement. If, one year after he last played in an NBA game, a player is ruled by an independent doctor to be medically unfit to continue his basketball career, his cap hit can be removed from his team’s books. The one-year anniversary of Pekovic’s last game with the Wolves arrives on January 31, so it will be interesting whether to see if the two sides pursue that medical retirement option at that point.
Other odds and ends:
There are a few other dates in January that are worth mentioning, but will perhaps come and go without any fanfare.
On January 10, mid-level and room exceptions – along with other cap exceptions – will start to pro-rate for the year, meaning a team with its full room exception available will no longer be able to offer the full $2.898MM amount to a free agent. Exceptions will decline in value by 1/170th per day, starting on January 10.
On January 12, one of the Cavaliers’ four trade exceptions will expire — it’s only worth about $845K, so it will almost certainly go unused.
January 15, meanwhile, is the last day that teams can apply for a disabled player exception to replace a player who is out for the season. A disabled player exception can give a club extra cap flexibility, though a team would still has to open up a roster spot to add a player using that DPE.
[Previously: NBA December dates to watch]