Saturday was a busy day in terms of NBA transactions, with most of the league’s 30 clubs making cuts and getting their rosters down to the regular season limit. As we explained over the weekend, players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season in order to avoid counting at all against a team’s salary cap, which is why most of those players were released on Saturday instead of today.
However, not every team now has a roster in compliance with NBA rules. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and Spurs still need to make roster moves by 4:00pm CT today in order to get down to the regular season limit. Teams are permitted to carry no more than 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals entering the season.
Here’s a quick look at the decisions facing those five teams:
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers need to trim their roster from 17 standard contracts to 15. Normally, the guys on non-guaranteed contracts would be the most obvious candidates to be cut, but I’d be surprised if the team parts ways with Patrick Beverley or Tyrone Wallace.
Instead, players on guaranteed salaries like Jawun Evans, Wesley Johnson, and Sindarius Thornwell could be in trouble if the Clips can’t find any trades they like.
Like the Clippers, the Suns have 17 players on standard contracts, with multiple vets on non-guaranteed deals whom they’d like to keep. If Phoenix keeps all 14 players with guaranteed salaries, that would leave just one spot for Richaun Holmes, Shaquille Harrison, and Isaiah Canaan.
Of the players with guarantees, Darrell Arthur is the most obvious release candidate, but if the club keeps him before getting an answer from the league on its disabled player exception request, it won’t be eligible for that DPE.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Suns will be granted that disabled player exception anyway. Marks wrote on Saturday that multiple team executives were “dumbfounded” by what season-ending injury Arthur could have suffered since being acquired by Phoenix in July. While the big man has been bothered by recurring knee injuries in recent years, the team hasn’t announced any new ailments or listed him on its injury report.
The Bucks have 16 players on standard contracts, meaning one player will need to be traded or released today. Christian Wood, who has one of the team’s two non-guaranteed contracts, appears likely to make the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other player on a non-guaranteed deal – Tim Frazier – will be waived though.
The decision may come down to Frazier vs. former first-round pick D.J. Wilson. Although Wilson has a guaranteed salary for 2018/19, his roster spot is “far from secure,” per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link).
The Pistons have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, leaving no clear openings for the club’s final non-guaranteed player, Zach Lofton. The undrafted free agent has impressed Detroit this fall though, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him, perhaps by having him supplant one of the current two-way players (Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans).
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs‘ final move is a mere formality. Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement this summer, technically remains on the roster, but he should be quietly waived today. Once that happens, San Antonio will have 15 players on standard contracts – including partially guaranteed veteran Quincy Pondexter – and one on a two-way deal.
Note: The Bulls and Rockets also still need to officially convert players on Exhibit 10 contracts to two-way deals. Chicago will reportedly do so with Tyler Ulis, while Houston will do so with Gary Clark and Vince Edwards.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.