As of Wednesday, 11 of the NBA’s 30 teams are carrying at least 15 players on guaranteed contracts and are unlikely to have many additional offseason acquisitions in store. Another 11 teams are carrying either 13 or 14 players on guaranteed deals.
As our roster counts page shows, that leaves eight clubs carrying 12 or fewer players on fully guaranteed deals. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all eight of those teams will sign free agents to guaranteed contracts before the regular season begins, but it’s worth checking in on them to take a closer look at their roster situations.
[RELATED: 2023/24 Non-Guaranteed Contracts By Team]
The only team with just 11 players on fully guaranteed contracts, the Celtics are also carrying Dalano Banton and Luke Kornet on partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed deals. Banton and Kornet seem like good bets to make the 15-man regular season roster, but Boston would still have to add a 14th man for opening night.
Although they only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, the Hornets have no shortage of candidates for their final two or three roster spots. P.J. Washington is a restricted free agent and still seems more likely to return than to head elsewhere — he would take the 13th slot.
Charlotte also has Frank Ntilikina, Kobi Simmons, and JT Thor on partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed salaries, with Theo Maledon still a two-way restricted free agent. So even if No. 31 overall pick James Nnaji becomes a draft-and-stash player and doesn’t sign an NBA contract immediately, the Hornets have plenty of options to fill out their roster without making outside additions.
The Cavaliers have 12 guaranteed contracts on their books, with Sam Merrill on a non-guaranteed minimum deal as their 13th man. Cleveland is a safe bet to make at least one more free agent addition — the club is said to be on the lookout for solid veteran depth, without a specific position in mind. The Cavs will likely wait out the market and see which of the top remaining free agents are willing to accept minimum-salary offers.
Although the Rockets only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, Aaron Holiday – whose partial guarantee exceeds $1MM – will likely make the roster as a 13th man. Houston still has a good deal of room to maneuver below the luxury tax line and could easily add two more players without any financial concerns.
Perhaps one of the team’s four Exhibit 10 players or three two-way players will earn a promotion with a strong preseason, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on the Rockets to see if they have one more move up their sleeves in free agency or on the trade market.
The Heat have a full 21-man offseason roster, but only 12 of those players have guaranteed standard contracts.
Orlando Robinson, who has a small partial guarantee, should make the 15-man roster, and two-way player Jamal Cain is a candidate to be converted to a standard deal, but Miami has more ambitious targets in mind. If the Heat make a trade for Damian Lillard, they’ll likely send out more players than they take back and could fill out their roster with veteran free agents.
New York Knicks
Even with Jericho Sims‘ salary for 2023/24 now fully guaranteed, the Knicks have just 12 players on guaranteed contracts. Isaiah Roby, DaQuan Jeffries, and Duane Washington are in the mix for 15-man roster spots on their non-guaranteed deals.
New York also has a pair of two-way players – Nathan Knight and Dylan Windler – with multiple years of NBA experience, so they may be candidates for promotions. The Knicks are likely keeping their options open for possible Evan Fournier trades too, recognizing that they could potentially use his pseudo-expiring $18.9MM contract to take back two or three players in a trade.
Portland Trail Blazers
Like the Heat, the Trail Blazers are in a bit of a holding pattern while they wait to see how the Lillard situation plays out. For now, they have 12 players on guaranteed contracts, with Moses Brown on a partially guaranteed deal. But if they end up acquiring, say, three players in exchange for Lillard, their projected 15-man roster will fill up in a hurry.
Of all the teams listed in this article, the Jazz may have the fewest roster decisions to make before the season. In addition to their 12 players on guaranteed salaries, they’re carrying Kris Dunn, Omer Yurtseven, and Luka Samanic on partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts. Utah may simply hang onto those three players and set its 15-man regular season roster without any further tweaks.