The NBA’s rules require teams to carry a minimum of 14 players on their standard 15-man roster (not counting two-way contracts). However, teams are permitted to dip below 14 players for up to two weeks at a time, and that often happens around the trade deadline when clubs send out multiple players in a deal without acquiring as many in return.
Entering this week, there were six NBA teams who were carrying only 13 players on standard contracts. However, the Heat filled their two open roster spots by signing Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, while the Bucks are reportedly signing Meyers Leonard to a 10-day contract to be their 14th man (they’ll have to finalize that deal by Thursday).
That leaves four teams with roster moves to make in the coming days, as our roster counts page shows. Here’s the breakdown:
New York Knicks
The Knicks had a full 15-man roster heading into trade deadline day, but they sent out three players – Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Svi Mykhailiuk – in the multi-team deal that landed Josh Hart in New York.
As a result, the Knicks have been carrying just 13 players on standard contracts since February 9 and will have until this Thursday to add at least one player to their roster. Two-way player DaQuan Jeffries has been mentioned as a candidate for a possible promotion.
The Hornets didn’t make any mismatched trades at the February 9 deadline, but they already had one open roster spot at that time and created another when they bought out Reggie Jackson after acquiring him from the Clippers.
Since Jackson was officially waived on February 12, the Hornets’ two-week window to add a 14th man will close on Feb. 26, so they still have a few days to make a decision on that spot. Promoting a two-way player (Theo Maledon or Bryce McGowens) is one option for Charlotte, though the team could also target a free agent for either a 10-day or rest-of-season contract.
The Rockets made a series of cuts after the trade deadline passed, waiving John Wall and buying out Danny Green and Justin Holiday. They did sign Boban Marjanovic during that time as well, so they only have two openings on their roster, rather than three. But they’ll have to add a 14th man by February 27, two weeks after Holiday was officially cut.
Again, the Rockets could choose to promote a two-way player, but Darius Days or Trevor Hudgins have barely played at the NBA level this season, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Houston opt for a free agent or a G League call-up instead.
The Jazz had a full roster entering February 9, but traded four players for three in their deal with the Lakers and Timberwolves. They subsequently created two more roster openings by buying out Leandro Bolmaro (on Feb. 16) and Russell Westbrook (on Monday).
Because they first dipped below the 14-man minimum last Thursday, Utah will have until next Thursday (March 2) to add two players.
The 29-31 Jazz remain very much in the play-in mix, just a half-game behind the No. 10 Thunder, so it’s possible they could have interest in a veteran who could contribute immediately.
On the other hand, the Jazz’s deadline moves suggested management wasn’t focused on going all-out for a top-10 seed, so they may rather bring in young players they could develop — Utah could potentially sign those players to multiyear contracts that aren’t guaranteed beyond this season, allowing the team to take cheap fliers on a couple prospects.