NBA teams have until Monday night to officially set their rosters for the 2021/22 regular season. However, a majority of NBA teams will likely have their rosters ready to go on Saturday, with far more roster cuts expected today than on Sunday or Monday.
Why is that? Well, releasing a player today will allow him to clear waivers on Monday, before the regular season gets underway.
Players who are cut during the season are also paid for each day they spend on waivers, so a player who hits waivers on Sunday and doesn’t clear until the first day of the season on Tuesday would technically earn one day’s worth of pay, even if his salary isn’t guaranteed. A player waived on Monday would spend two regular season days on waivers.
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For players with partial or full guarantees, spending the first day or two of the regular season on waivers doesn’t really matter — they’re getting their full 2021/22 salary (or their partial guarantees) no matter when they’re released. But if a team waits until Monday to cut a player with a non-guaranteed salary, that team will be on the hook for two days’ worth of dead money for the player.
Two days’ worth of dead money won’t exactly break the bank — it should come in below $20K for a minimum-salary player. But most teams already know which players are in and which are out, so there’s no need to take the decision down to the wire on Monday. They’ll make those cuts today and will avoid adding extra cap charges to their books for ’21/22. Even that small amount of savings could make a difference for teams who are right around the tax line or up against a hard cap.
While many teams will make their cuts today, several clubs – including the Raptors , Hornets, Rockets, and Spurs – can afford to wait an extra day or two if they want to, since they’ll all be waiving players who have full or partial guarantees. Waiting until Sunday or Monday to make those moves won’t affect their cap outlook at all.