Rules Related To NBA Offseason Roster Limits

Although 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 about three to five on training camp contracts.

This is the route the Lakers are currently taking, for instance. Los Angeles has 14 players on guaranteed deals, Kostas Antetokounmpo and Zach Norvell Jr. on two-way contracts, and three more players – Aric Holman, Jordan Caroline, and Devontae Cacok – on training camp deals, leaving one spot open on the club’s 20-man offseason roster.

A team can also carry more than 15 guaranteed salaries at this point if it wants to. Based on reported contract data, I don’t believe any team is currently carrying more than 15 players on fully guaranteed deals, but the Grizzlies have 15 players with full guarantees and two more with partial guarantees. Before the regular season begins, Memphis will have to either trade or waive at least two of those players, though 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 Lakers may end up designating players like Holman, Caroline, and Cacok as affiliate players, sending them to the South Bay Lakers and awarding them an Exhibit 10 bonus if they stick with L.A.’s NBAGL squad. A team like the Nuggets, without a G League 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 2019/20 season. Until then, you can read more about NBA roster limits in our glossary entry on the subject.

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