NBA teams have until Monday night to officially set their rosters for the 2022/23 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 ensure he clears 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 released 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, since they’re getting their full 2022/23 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 would come in around $21K for most minimum-salary players. But a majority of 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 ’22/23. 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, a handful of clubs can afford to wait an extra day or two if they want to, since they’ll be waiving players who have full or partial guarantees.
The Thunder, for instance, have 17 players on fully guaranteed contracts and will need to reduce that number to 15. Waiting until Sunday or Monday to make their cuts won’t affect their cap outlook at all, since all 17 of those players will receive their full-season salaries either way.
Additionally, teams whose final roster moves won’t involve placing a player on waivers can afford to wait until Monday to finalize those moves.
For example, Marc Stein reported (via Twitter) on Friday night that Mavericks guard McKinley Wright is expected to have his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal, assuming the club doesn’t make a “late audible” and claim a player who was waived by another team. Dallas could wait until Monday to convert Wright’s contract, since he won’t have to pass through waivers.