As we noted last week when we identified the clubs with open roster spots, NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads (not counting two-way players). However, teams are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks.
At this month’s trade deadline, four teams ended up with multiple open roster spots and are currently carrying 13 players on their NBA rosters. The Cavaliers have 13 players after their plethora of deadline deals; the Wizards went down to 13 after sending Sheldon Mac to Atlanta; and the Trail Blazers are carrying 13 after trading Noah Vonleh to Chicago. The Hawks, meanwhile, waived Mac and Marco Belinelli after the trade deadline passed to get to 13.
As a result of those roster moves, Cleveland, Washington, and Portland have until this Thursday – two weeks after the trade deadline – to get back up to 14 players by signing a player to a 10-day contract or a rest-of-season deal. Atlanta has until Friday to do the same.
While we don’t know with certainty which players will be signed by these four teams later this week, there have been some clues. Veteran big man Kendrick Perkins published a tweet on February 8 suggesting that he was joining the Cavs, but quickly deleted it — Cleveland may be ready to finalize an agreement with Perkins later this week.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have been linked to several free agent point guards with John Wall sidelined and Tim Frazier banged up too. Ty Lawson, Derrick Rose, and Ramon Sessions are among the players said to have drawn some interest from Washington, so perhaps the club will pull the trigger on a deal with one of those vets this week.
Temporarily carrying 13 players has had a noticeable financial impact for the Cavs, Wizards, and Blazers, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter). Cleveland has saved $35K per day since the trade deadline in potential luxury-tax payments for that 14th roster spot, while Washington has saved $12K per day in taxes. As for the Blazers, the savings they’ve created by carrying 13 players will allow them to sign a 14th player, then eventually sign a 15th player – if they so choose – without going over the tax line.