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, only the Warriors and Magic have disabled player exceptions on hand, and the Knicks and Hornets are the only teams with any 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. The 2019/20 league year featured a total of 12 waiver claims, which was the highest mark in several years.
Despite how infrequent they are, we still want to track all the waiver claims that take place during the 2020/21 league year, since you never know which claim may end up being crucial (such as the Pistons‘ July 2019 claim of Christian Wood). We’ll track this year’s waiver claims in the space below, updating the list throughout the season to include the latest moves.
Here’s the list:
- Rockets claim Kenny Wooten from Knicks (November 21) (story)
- Wooten signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Knicks last January, but never played an NBA game with the team and was cut in November with a new regime in charge. It looked like the Rockets may end up poaching Wooten for one of their two-way contract slots, but they decided to waive him during the preseason, using that slot on Brodric Thomas instead.
- Nets claim Paul Eboua from Heat (December 18) (story)
- Eboua was a training camp invitee in Miami who was beaten out by Max Strus for the club’s second two-way slot. The Nets claimed his non-guaranted minimum salary contract off waivers, then promptly re-released him. Brooklyn likely plans to have Eboua play for the Long Island Nets in the G League this season.
- Suns claim Frank Kaminsky from Kings (December 21) (story)
- Of the first three waiver claims of 2020/21, Kaminsky is the only one who began the regular season on his new team’s roster. The Suns, who had Kaminsky on their roster in 2019/20, declined his $5MM team option at the start of the offseason, but were happy to get him back on a non-guaranteed minimum salary deal via waivers, taking him into their open 15th roster spot.
- Rockets claim DaQuan Jeffries from Kings (April 5) (story)
- After re-signing Jeffries to a two-year, minimum-salary deal during the 2020 offseason, the Kings decided late in the first year that he wasn’t in their plans. The rebuilding Rockets opted to take a flier on Jeffries to see if he might be worth retaining in 2021/22 on his second-year team option.
- Spurs claim DaQuan Jeffries from Rockets (May 15) (story)
- Being released twice in a single season isn’t ideal, but the silver lining for Jeffries is that he was the only player to be claimed off waivers twice during the 2020/21 season. Houston had to make room on its roster to sign Khyri Thomas to a multiyear deal, making Jeffries the odd man out. The Spurs decided to use their open roster spot to claim his rights and will have to make a decision later this year on his 2021/22 team option.