Rules Related To NBA Offseason Roster Limits

While NBA teams are limited to 15 players (plus a pair of two-way players) during the regular season, each club can carry up to 20 players during the offseason. Teams don’t have to cut down their rosters from 20 until the day before the regular season.

Players on two-way contracts count toward the 20-man offseason limit, so a club can’t sign 20 players to standard NBA contracts, then add another two more on two-way deals. If a team has filled both of its two-way contract slots, it’s limited to 18 players on standard contracts.

The most common approach for a team building its offseason roster is to carry about 14 players on guaranteed contracts with one or two more on two-way deals and then four or five on training camp contracts.

This is the route the Hornets are currently taking, for instance. Charlotte has 14 players on guaranteed deals, Mangok Mathiang and J.P. Macura on two-way contracts, and four more players – Joe Chealey, Jaylen Barford, Isaiah Wilkins, and Zach Smith – on training camp deals. The Lakers have taken a similar approach, with 15 players on guaranteed salaries, both their two-way slots filled, and three players on camp deals. Charlotte and L.A. were the first two teams to reach the 20-man offseason roster limit.

Still, a team can carry more than 15 guaranteed salaries at this point if it wants to. The Clippers, for example, currently have 16 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Patrick Beverley‘s non-guaranteed deal. Before the regular season begins, the Clips will have to either trade or waive at least two players on guaranteed deals if they intend to keep Beverley. But there’s no rush to do so right away.

Teams with G League affiliates are more likely to use up all 20 of their offseason roster slots than teams without them. The Hornets may end up designating players like Chealey, Barford, Wilkins, and Smith as affiliate players, sending them to the Greensboro Swarm and awarding them an Exhibit 10 bonus if they stick with Charlotte’s G League club. A team like the Nuggets, without an NBAGL affiliate, can’t offer that same bonus.

Once a few more deals around the NBA are officially completed, we’ll be posting our list of roster counts for all 30 teams, which we’ll keep up to date throughout the offseason and the 2018/19 season. Until then, you can read more about NBA roster limits in our glossary entry on the subject.

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