NBA Roster, Contract Deadlines To Watch In October

After a couple quiet months around the NBA, October is full of important deadlines for roster and contract decisions. Here’s our round-up of the dates to keep an eye on this month:

Regular season roster decisions

The 2023/24 regular season tips off on Tuesday, October 24, which means teams must set their rosters for the season by 4:00 pm Central time on Monday, October 23. To be in accordance with regular season roster limits, a team must be carrying no more than 15 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals.

While teams have until Oct. 23 to set their their regular season rosters, many clubs will make their final cuts on or before Saturday, October 21. That’s the final day that a team can waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract and avoid paying any of his salary.

Because a player gets paid for the time he spends on waivers, a player who is cut on Monday, Oct. 23 wouldn’t clear waivers until Wednesday, Oct. 25, the second day of the regular season. That means that even if his contract is non-guaranteed, he’d earn two days’ worth of his salary.

Teams who intend to waive players with partially or fully guaranteed salaries are in better position to wait until the Monday before the regular season begins. For instance, if the Hornets decide to cut Frank Ntilikina, who has a $200K partial guarantee, it wouldn’t matter if they do so on October 21 or 23 — he’d receive his $200K either way.

However, if the Hornets want to waive Edmond Sumner, whose salary is entirely non-guaranteed, they’d likely do so on the Saturday. Waiting until the Monday would mean paying him $26,973 (2/174ths of his $2,346,614 salary).

Two-way contract conversions

A player on an Exhibit 10 contract can have his deal converted into a two-way contract, but only up until Monday, October 23, the day before the regular season begins.

If a player on an Exhibit 10 contract remains on his team’s roster through that Monday without being converted to a two-way, his Exhibit 10 deal would become a standard non-guaranteed contract.

Since most players on Exhibit 10 contracts will be waived on or before October 21, it’s worth keeping tabs on which of them hang onto their roster spots through that Saturday — those players will be good bets to have their deals converted into two-ways or perhaps even to claim a 15-man roster spot.

Contract extensions

The deadline for a player to sign a rookie scale extension is Monday, October 23 at 5:00 pm Central time.

As of today, six of the 27 players who were eligible for a rookie scale extension entering the offseason have signed one, leaving 21 players who still may be seeking new deals that would keep them off the 2024 free agent market.

Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley, Mavericks wing Josh Green, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, and Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu are a few of the notable rookie scale extension candidates to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

As for veteran extension candidates, a player who is extension-eligible and who is in the final year of his current contract can sign an extension at any time before or after the regular season begins, all the way up until June 30, 2024.

However, a player who is eligible for a veteran extension but who is not in a contract year will only be eligible to sign a new deal up until Monday, October 23.

For instance, Warriors swingman Klay Thompson will remain eligible to sign a veteran extension even after the regular season begins, since he’s in the last year of his current contract. But Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has two guaranteed years left, plus a 2025/26 player option, can only sign an extension up until Oct. 23. After that, he’ll become ineligible to sign a new deal until next summer.

Salary guarantee dates

The league-wide salary guarantee date to watch is January 7, 2024. A player on a non-guaranteed contract who isn’t waived by that date and doesn’t clear waivers before January 10 will have his 2023/24 salary become fully guaranteed.

However, certain players have contracts that call for them to receive partial or full guarantees on earlier dates. Our list of early salary guarantee dates shows which players fall into that boat up until the start of the regular season, starting with Raptors guard Jeff Dowtin on Saturday, October 21.

Rookie scale team option decisions

A team that wants to exercise its 2024/25 third- or fourth-year option on a player on a rookie contract must do so on or before Tuesday, October 31.

As our tracker shows, the Heat and Magic have already made their option decisions, while the Celtics, Mavericks, and Lakers don’t have any to make. But the NBA’s other 25 teams will have to pick up or turn down those rookie scale team options for ’24/25 in the coming weeks.

A team that retains a player without exercising his 2024/25 option would put the player on track for unrestricted free agency next offseason. At that point, his team wouldn’t be able to offer him a salary higher than what his option would have been worth, though rival suitors could offer more than that.

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