During the offseason, NBA teams can carry as many as 20 players on their rosters, but by opening night each will need to get down to a maximum of 15.
Teams are obligated to have at least 13 players on their roster, meaning the season will start with 390 to 450 players under contract.
Presently, 475 players are signed with teams – 413 have fully-guaranteed contracts, 62 are non/partially-guaranteed.
Of course, a guaranteed contract doesn’t automatically translate into a roster spot. Players can be bought out, or paid in full but still cut.
The deadline for a team to waive and stretch a player for the 2016-17 season is August 31. For example, should the Los Angeles Lakers choose to cut and stretch Nick Young before September, they would pay his remaining $11.1 million over the next five seasons at $2.2 million a year.
The Lakers have yet to sign Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black, holding onto a bit of potential cap space should a trade opportunity arise.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will also, eventually, sign Donatas Sabonis. The Golden State Warriors are reportedly inking JaVale McGee and Elliot Williams.
The Houston Rockets have reportedly agreed to sign four players (Gary Payton II, Kyle Wiltjer, Isaiah Taylor and Bobby Brown), but still have to come to terms with restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas.
Sooner or later, LeBron James will presumably re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers – along with J.R. Smith, provided a deal can be reached.
Roster space is quickly becoming a premium for any hopeful free agents trying to find a deal.
As detailed by Basketball Insiders’ Jesse Blancarte, some of the top remaining free agents include Ty Lawson, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, Mario Chalmers and Jason Thompson – in addition to J.R. Smith and Motiejunas.
Others include Jason Terry, Kevin Martin, Kirk Hinrich, Norris Cole, Jeff Ayres, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Andre Miller, Toney Douglas, Steve Blake, Chris Kaman, Kendrick Perkins and Beno Udrih.
Meanwhile, some teams will need to either find trade partners to trim their rosters down to 15, or they’ll be forced to cut guaranteed salary.
The Boston Celtics have 16 guaranteed players. The Atlanta Hawks are full at 15, but also have half of Mike Muscala’s $1.0 million salary guaranteed.
Teams with fewer than 15 players include the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic and Lakers. The Cavaliers and Thunder aren’t officially at 15, but should be shortly.
Some players are signed with just a small guarantee, which is usually motivation to join their respective team’s NBA Development League franchise (once cut by the parent franchise) as an affiliate player.
The following lists each team’s roster count, as of August 11:
|Atlanta Hawks||15||2||Mike Muscala has $508,000 guaranteed.|
|Boston Celtics||16||2||Someone guaranteed has to go.|
|Brooklyn Nets||15||3||Beau Beech, Egidijus Mockevicius and Yogi Ferrell are more likely to end up on the Long Island Nets.|
|Charlotte Hornets||13||3||Two spots available, with Aaron Harrison, Mike Tobey and Treveon Graham hoping to stick.|
|Chicago Bulls||13||2||Cristiano Felicio and Spencer Dinwiddie may push the Bulls to 15.|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||11||2||Pencil in 13 guaranteed, with James and Smith.|
|Dallas Mavericks||14||5||Five fighting for one spot, but the Mavericks have been known to cut guaranteed players.|
|Denver Nuggets||15||2||No apparent room for JaKarr Sampson and Axel Toupane.|
|Detroit Pistons||14||2||Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum presumably fighting for the final roster spot.|
|Golden State Warriors||14||0||Still unsigned, McGee and Williams hope to be the Warriors’ 15th.|
|Houston Rockets||14||0||The Rockets are reportedly signing four to fight for a spot that may ultimately go to Motiejunas.|
|Los Angeles Clippers||15||0|
|Los Angeles Lakers||12||0||One spot open, once Ingram and Black sign.|
|Memphis Grizzlies||13||6||Vince Carter’s $4.3 million is only $2 million guaranteed.|
|Miami HEAT||14||4||Briante Weber has $219,000 of his contract guaranteed.|
|Milwaukee Bucks||13||0||Two spots open.|
|New Orleans Pelicans||15||0|
|New York Knicks||14||3||Ron Baker, J.P. Tokoto and Chasson Randle hope to make 15, but may all end up on the Westchester Knicks.|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||13||0||In addition to Sabonis, the Thunder are expected to sign veteran Ronnie Price to hit 15.|
|Orlando Magic||13||0||Two open spots.|
|Philadelphia 76ers||12||8||Reportedly agreed to sign Cat Barber to a partially-guaranteed deal, but no roster space currently to do so.|
|Phoenix Suns||13||2||John Jenkins and Alan Williams both may make the regular-season squad.|
|Portland Trail Blazers||14||2||Luis Montero and Tim Quarterman are vying for the Blazers’ open spot.|
|Sacramento Kings||14||1||The Kings claimed Lamar Patterson off waivers from the Atlanta Hawks, possibly their 15th player.|
|San Antonio Spurs||14||3||One of Ryan Arcidiacono, Bryn Forbes and Patricio Garino have a shot to make the roster, but all three may end up with the Austin Spurs.|
|Toronto Raptors||14||4||Fred VanVleet, Drew Crawford, Yanick Moreira or Jarrod Uthoff may get the Raptors final roster berth; more likely they land on the Raptors 905.|
|Utah Jazz||14||2||Jeff Withey may have the edge to stick over Christapher Johnson.|
|Washington Wizards||12||4||The Wizards have three spots, potentially for Jarell Eddie (with a $175k guarantee), Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu and/or Sheldon McClellan.|
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