Waiver claims are something of a rarity in the NBA. In order to claim a player off waivers, a team generally must be able to fit the player’s entire salary into cap room, a traded player exception, or a disabled player exception. While there are a few teams with sizable trade exceptions available, disabled player exceptions can only be granted during the season, and the Kings are the only team with real cap room left.
Given those limitations, the players most frequently claimed on waivers are those on minimum salary deals, since any club is eligible to place a claim on those players using the minimum salary exception. Even then though, there are exceptions — the minimum salary exception can only be used to sign players for up to two years, so the same rules apply to waiver claims. If a player signed a three-year, minimum salary contract, he can’t be claimed using the minimum salary exception.
Taking into account all the rules that reduce the odds of a waiver claim – not to mention the limited roster spots available for NBA teams – it makes sense that nearly all of the players who get released ultimately clear waivers. During the 2017/18 league year, only four players were claimed off waivers. That number was six in 2016/17 and seven in 2015/16.
Despite how infrequent they are, we still want to track all the waiver claims that take place during the 2018/19 league year, so we’ll do so in the space below. This list will be updated throughout the offseason and regular season to include the latest claims.
Here’s the list:
- Wizards claim Thomas Bryant from Lakers (July 2)
- The Lakers waived Bryant before his $1,378,242 salary for 2018/19 became guaranteed, but the Wizards were happy to guarantee that figure for the young center. Because Bryant signed a two-year, minimum salary contract in 2017, he was eligible to be claimed using the minimum salary exception. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency at the end of the ’18/19 season.
- Bulls claim Antonius Cleveland from Hawks (July 23)
- Cleveland signed a two-year, minimum salary contract with the Hawks near the end of the 2017/18 season, so the Bulls used the minimum salary exception to claim him after having spent all their cap room on Jabari Parker. Cleveland’s $1,378,242 salary for 2018/19 season wasn’t set to become guaranteed until January, but the Hawks waived him early in order to create more space to accommodate their Carmelo Anthony acquisition. The Bulls took a look at Cleveland in camp, but cut him before the regular season began.
- Bulls claim Tyler Ulis from Warriors (October 14)
- The Bulls had a full 15-man roster when they claimed Ulis, one day before the regular season cutdown deadline. However, they took advantage of an open two-way contract slot and Ulis’ Exhibit 10 contract, claiming him from the Warriors using the minimum salary exception, then converting his deal into a two-way pact in order to avoid having to cut anyone else. Ulis starts the season as a two-way player for Chicago.
- Pelicans claim Tim Frazier from Bucks (October 17)
- Hornets claim Shelvin Mack from Hawks (February 10)
- The Hawks acquired Mack at the trade deadline and subsequently waived him. They were let off the hook for his remaining salary when the Hornets submitted a claim, using their open roster spot to accommodate their new point guard.
- Pelicans claim Christian Wood from Bucks (March 20)
- In need of backcourt depth, the Bucks signed Tim Frazier, opening up a roster spot by waiving Wood, despite his terrific G League numbers. The lottery-bound Pelicans opted to take a flier on Wood, whose minimum-salary deal made it easy to place a claim.
- Thunder claim Jawun Evans from Suns (March 25)
- The first waiver claim of a two-way player this season, the Thunder‘s claim of Evans was somewhat unexpected. After he was cut by the Suns, Evans was expected to be nabbed by Houston, but Oklahoma City was ahead of the Rockets in the waiver order and beat them to the punch.
- Rockets claim Trevon Duval from Bucks (March 26)
- A day after losing out on Evans, the Rockets filled the open two-way slot on their roster by instead claiming Duval from the Bucks.
- Clippers claim Rodney McGruder from Heat (April 9)
- With their postseason hopes dwindling, the Heat decided to prioritize getting out of the luxury tax, and the Clippers helped them do so. Miami ducked below the tax line by removing McGruder’s cap hit from its books, and L.A. secured his Early Bird rights in advance of the offseason.
- Rockets claim Deyonta Davis from Hawks (June 12)
- Davis’ salary is non-guaranteed until August 1, so the Rockets presumably snatched him off waivers just in case he can be used in trade scenarios before then.