As we detailed earlier today in our breakdown of each NBA team’s current roster count, clubs can carry up to 20 players in the offseason, but are limited to 15 players on their regular season rosters. As such, teams will often only carry 13 or 14 players on guaranteed contracts into training camp, giving a non-guaranteed player or two the opportunity to impress coaches and earn a spot on the 15-man squad.
However, even with training camps still a month and a half away, several NBA teams are already carrying 15 or more players with fully guaranteed salaries, limiting their roster flexibility and their ability to take fliers on camp invitees.
Here’s a breakdown of those teams, with their fully guaranteed salaries noted in parentheses:
- Boston Celtics (16)
- Golden State Warriors (15)
- Memphis Grizzlies (15)
- Sacramento Kings (15)
- Utah Jazz (15)
Of those five teams, the Celtics are the only club that will absolutely have to trade or waive a player on a guaranteed contract before the regular season gets underway. Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis may be the most at-risk players, since they don’t have any guaranteed money on their deals beyond the 2017/18 season. Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye also don’t have fully guaranteed salaries beyond this season, though they have partial guarantees for 2018/19.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will be in the same boat as Boston if they ultimately bring back restricted free agent JaMychal Green. A new deal for Green would give Memphis 16 guaranteed salaries. The Grizzlies also haven’t signed second-round pick Ivan Rabb, so if they intend to do so, they could create an even more significant roster crunch.
The other teams on the list above should, for the most part, have their 15-man regular season rosters locked in at this point, but if changes need to be made, the Kings should be willing to eat a guaranteed contract — they’re still well below the cap. The Jazz could afford to eat some money too, if necessary. The Warriors may be the team that needs to best make use of all 15 roster spots as they look to defend their title, but replacing a player on a guaranteed contract would be pricey, since Golden State is already deep into tax territory.
Finally, one other team worth watching is the Thunder. Currently, Oklahoma City only has 14 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, but that figure doesn’t include Jerami Grant or Semaj Christon, both of whom could have a place on the club’s roster this season. I don’t think Grant will be going anywhere, so the Thunder may have to decide whether to part ways with Christon or whether another move can be made to keep him on the 15-man roster.
Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.