As of January 25, the NBA’s waiver priority order is determined by teams’ current-year records, rather than the previous season’s results, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter).
That means the waiver order for this season is now based on teams’ 2020/21 records, with the worst teams getting the highest priority. In other words, if two teams place a claim on the same player, the team lower in this season’s NBA standings will be awarded that player.
Up until today, the waiver claim order was based on which teams had the worst records in 2019/20 prior to the March 11 stoppage. In a normal league year, the changeover to current-year records occurs on December 1, but that date was pushed back this season to account for the late start.
Waiver claims are somewhat rare in the NBA, but it’s still worth noting which teams will have the first crack at intriguing players who may be cut over the next few weeks or months.
[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Waiver Claims]
Here’s what the teams currently at the top of the NBA’s waiver order look like, as of today:
- Detroit Pistons (3-13)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (4-11)
- Washington Wizards (3-9)
- New Orleans Pelicans (5-10)
- Sacramento Kings (6-10)
In instances where multiple teams have identical records, head-to-head record for the current season is used to break ties, if possible. Otherwise, a coin flip determines priority for those tied teams.
If a waived player can’t be claimed using the minimum salary exception, a team must use a trade exception, a disabled player exception, or cap room to absorb his salary. So a club with a top priority won’t be in position to nab just anyone who reaches waivers.
The Pistons, for example, have no cap space or exceptions available to place a waiver claim on any player earning more than the minimum, so despite their spot at the top of the waiver order, their ability to claim players is fairly limited.