Waiver claims are something of a rarity in the NBA. In order to claim a player off waivers, a team generally must be able to fit the player’s entire salary into cap room, a traded player exception, or a disabled player exception.
Given those limitations, the players most frequently claimed on waivers are those on minimum-salary deals, since any club is eligible to place a claim on those players using the minimum salary exception.
Even then though, there are some caveats — the minimum salary exception can only be used to sign players for up to two years, so the same rules apply to waiver claims. If a player signed a three-year, minimum salary contract, he can’t be claimed using the minimum salary exception, even if he’s in the final year of his deal.
Taking into account all the rules that reduce the odds of a waiver claim – not to mention the limited roster spots available for NBA teams – it makes sense that nearly all of the players who get released ultimately clear waivers. The 2021/22 and ’22/23 league years each featured just six waiver claims, for instance.
Despite how infrequent they are, we still want to track all the waiver claims that take place during the 2023/24 league year, since you never know which claim may end up being crucial. Last season, for instance, the Spurs claimed Julian Champagnie and Sandro Mamukelashvili off waivers — both players eventually re-signed with the team as free agents in the summer and remain on San Antonio’s roster this fall.
We’ll track this year’s waiver claims in the space below, updating the list throughout the season to include the latest moves. Here’s the list:
- Trail Blazers claim Ish Wainright from Suns (October 21) (story)
- The victim of a roster crunch in Phoenix, Wainright was waived by the Suns before the regular season as the team trimmed its roster from 17 players on standard contracts to 15. Portland was willing to take a flier on Wainright, whose minimum-salary deal won’t become guaranteed until January. That timeline gives the Blazers the flexibility to evaluate the forward for a couple months before deciding whether to lock in his full-season cap hit.
- Pelicans claim Matt Ryan from Timberwolves (October 22) (story)
- A restricted free agent this summer, Ryan re-signed with Minnesota on a new two-way contract, but the Timberwolves decided to convert Daishen Nix to a two-way deal before the season began, cutting Ryan to make room. The Pelicans, whose roster was hit hard by preseason injuries, had an open two-way contract slot and viewed the third-year sharpshooter as the sort of NBA-ready player who could step into a rotation role immediately, so they decided to claim his two-way contract off waivers.