NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Nearly one hundred players who signed new contracts this past offseason will become trade-eligible on Friday, and while that doesn’t mean we’ll immediately see NBA teams make a flurry of trades, it does mean that clubs figure to start looking a little more seriously at making moves.

Up until this point in the 2017/18 season, roster moves have been few and far between. Outside of a pair of trades involved disgruntled players (Eric Bledsoe and Jahlil Okafor), there have only been a handful of signings and cuts, as teams have been mostly content to assess their rosters to determine what they have.

With the regular season’s two-month mark approaching, however, there will likely be a few more transactions completed in the coming weeks — and especially in the new year. In addition to having more of their players become trade-eligible, teams will also be able to start signing players to 10-day contracts early in January. Those 10-day deals are useful tools for teams that want to take a look at players without committing a roster spot and a salary to them for the entire season.

With roster activity expected to pick up in the near future, it’s worth taking a look at which teams have the flexibility to sign a player or to take on an extra player in a two-for-one trade without waiving anyone.

With the help of our roster counts page, here are the teams that currently have an opening on their respective 15-man NBA rosters:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
    • Note: The Timberwolves are also the only team with an open two-way contract slot.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

While all of the teams listed above have a single open roster spot, some of those clubs have the flexibility to easily create another opening without waiving a player on a guaranteed contract. For instance, one of the Raptors’ 14 players on NBA contracts is little-used rookie forward Alfonzo McKinnie, who has only played 25 minutes for the team all season. McKinnie’s salary is non-guaranteed, so if Toronto wanted to create an extra roster spot, the team could waive McKinnie without taking on much dead money.

Along those lines, the following teams currently have full 15-man rosters, but are carrying at least one player on a non-guaranteed salary:

Indiana To Host 2021 NBA All-Star Game

3:19pm: The NBA has officially confirmed that the Pacers will host the league’s 2021 All-Star Game.

8:17am: The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will take place in Indiana, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the Pacers will host the event. It will be the first time the team has hosted All-Star weekend since 1985.

The Pacers sent out a press release this morning announcing that a press conference will take place this afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, so the club figures to make the news official at that point. Pacers owner Herb Simon, Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver are among those expected to be in attendance for that announcement.

The 2021 All-Star Game update comes on the heels of last month’s confirmation that the Bulls will host the 2020 event. This season’s All-Star Game will take place in Los Angeles, while the Hornets will host 2019’s festivities in Charlotte.

The last time the Pacers hosted the All-Star Game, the team did so at the Hoosier Dome, so 2021 will represent the first time the game has been played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Suns Sign Isaiah Canaan To NBA Deal

2:59pm: Suns GM Ryan McDonough has confirmed the signing, indicating that Canaan will be in uniform and available to play for the club tonight, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link).

1:04pm: One day after landing with the Suns’ G League affiliate, Isaiah Canaan appears poised to be called up to Phoenix. As Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (via Twitter), the Suns intend to sign Canaan to an NBA contract.

[RELATED: Isaiah Canaan joins Suns’ G League affiliate]

The Suns, who had to waive Derrick Jones last week to accommodate a standard NBA deal for Mike James, won’t have to make a corresponding roster move to add Canaan to their roster. According to Charania, the veteran guard will join the Suns via a hardship exception, which will allow the squad to temporarily add a 16th player to its NBA roster.

A team can be granted a hardship exception when it has at least four players who have missed three or more games, assuming those four players are expected to continue to miss time. In Phoenix’s case, Brandon Knight, Davon Reed, and Alan Williams have been sidelined all season, and Devin Booker missed his third straight game on Tuesday. Booker is expected to miss at least another week or two with a left adductor strain.

Canaan, 26, began his NBA career with the Rockets in 2013/14, and has since bounced around the league, spending time with the Sixers and Bulls before briefly returning to Houston this season. Canaan signed with the Rockets in October after Chris Paul was sidelined with a knee issue, but he was waived just four days later.

A Murray State alum, Canaan has appeared in 186 regular season NBA games, averaging 8.4 PPG in 20.2 minutes per contest. He signed a G League contract this week and was claimed by the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, who subsequently traded him to the Northern Arizona Suns. If Phoenix cuts Canaan when Booker returns, Northern Arizona will retain his G League rights.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/13/17

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have assigned rookie center Ante Zizic to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Zizic, who has averaged a double-double (15.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG) in three G League games so far this season, will suit up for the Canton Charge on Wednesday night against Grand Rapids.
  • The Magic have recalled rookie big man Khem Birch from the G League, according to the club (Twitter link). In his most recent game with the Lakeland Magic on Tuesday, Birch filled the scoresheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and five blocks.
  • Having been recalled from the Memphis Hustle on Tuesday, rookie forward Ivan Rabb has been re-assigned by the Grizzlies today, per a team release. He should be active for the Hustle on Wednesday night against the Iowa Wolves.

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, McDaniels, E. Okafor

Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas made it official this week, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, and expect Lonzo Ball‘s younger brothers to report to the team in early January. However, it’s not a long-term agreement. As Nicola Lupo details for Sportando, the deal for the two American teenagers includes a team opt-out after the first month, so it could end up being a brief experiment.

Still, Vytautas director Adomas Kubilius admits that he’s intrigued by exposure the Ball brothers will bring to the franchise, not to mention the potential financial benefits (Twitter link via Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas). The club didn’t speak directly with its new players during negotiations, having worked things out with agent Harrison Gaines, but Kubilius suggests that – outside of guaranteed playing time – the Ball brothers didn’t make any major requests (Twitter link via Urbonas). And for what it’s worth, LaVar Ball would also be “warmly welcomed” in Prienai, according to the team (Twitter link).

As we wait to see how LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball adjust to Lithuania, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world….

  • Veteran swingman K.J. McDaniels has signed a G League contract and been claimed off waivers by the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons‘ affiliate, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days. McDaniels, who spent time with the Nets and Rockets in 2016/17 and was in camp this fall with the Raptors, has averaged 5.3 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 148 total NBA games.
  • Bobby Marks’ latest piece for ESPN Insider is packed with team-by-team details on trade restrictions and notes that will be relevant as the February deadline approaches. Among the info Marks passes along: Which teams can only send or receive limited amounts of cash, which players can veto trades, and which can’t be traded until certain special dates.
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines the job security for head coaches around the NBA, concluding that Frank Vogel (Magic), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Dave Joerger (Kings), and Fred Hoiberg (Bulls) are among those whose seats are hottest.
  • Former second overall pick Emeka Okafor continues to try to make it back to the NBA, with Blake Murphy taking an in-depth look at the big man’s comeback efforts in an excellent piece for Uproxx.com.

Grizzlies Rumors: Gasol, Youngsters, Draft Missteps

After starting the season with a 7-4 record, the Grizzlies have won just one of their last 16 games, plummeting to second-last in the Western Conference at 8-19. Despite the team’s massive slump, general manager Chris Wallace continues to insist that Memphis won’t entertain the notion of trading Marc Gasol this season, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.

“We think our window is still very much open with Mike [Conley] and Marc. I think we’ll be heard from the rest of this year, and in years to come,” Wallace recently said. The Grizzlies’ GM reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, according to Lowe.

Wallace and others in the Grizzlies’ front office are “adamant” that their stance on Gasol – and rebuilding in general – won’t change this season, even if the team doesn’t start winning. Lowe is skeptical, suggesting there are probably scenarios in which Memphis at least gauges Gasol’s value, even if the team doesn’t shop him outright. Still, the ESPN scribe acknowledges that the Grizzlies may still prefer to play out the season, grab a lottery pick, and redouble their efforts to contend with Gasol and Conley in 2018/19.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies, including a few additional tidbits from Lowe’s feature:

  • Gasol insists that he won’t ask the Grizzlies for a trade, even if the team were to fall to 30 games below .500. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol said, according to Lowe. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” Still, if Memphis decides it wants to move him, Gasol would accept that too: “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise.”
  • Wallace believes the Grizzlies can build for the future even as they focus on short-term contention, pointing to Dillon Brooks, Andrew Harrison, Jarell Martin, Deyonta Davis, and Ivan Rabb as young players who could evolve into solid rotation players. “How many teams who have been annual participants in the playoffs have as many guys under 24?” Wallace asked. Still, as Lowe notes, the Memphis GM admitted that it “remains to be seen” whether any of those players will develop into above-average NBA starters.
  • Taking a look back at some of the Grizzlies’ draft mistakes, Lowe cites sources who say that the club unsuccessfully tried to trade up for T.J. Warren in 2014. Memphis also considered drafting Nikola Jokic at No. 35 in 2014, but felt it was too high for him, per Lowe. Denver nabbed Jokic six picks later.
  • Like Lowe, Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has gone into extended detail this week about what has gone wrong for the Grizzlies this year. On Sunday, Tillery explored how Memphis’ retooling plan has backfired, while on Tuesday he wrote about the club’s culture being called into question.

Terrence Jones To Join Warriors’ G League Team

Former first-round pick Terrence Jones is poised to join the Warriors’ G League affiliate, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. As Amick reports, the Santa Cruz Warriors currently have the top waiver priority, so they intend to snag Jones once the veteran power forward officially signs a G League contract and enters the waiver pool.

The 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Jones spent his first four NBA seasons with the Rockets, flashing some potential during his time in Houston before spending last year with the Pelicans and Bucks. Over the course of his five-year NBA career, the former Kentucky Wildcat has posted solid averages of 10.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 24.0 minutes per contest (232 games).

Still, the Rockets opted not to re-sign Jones when he was eligible for restricted free agency in 2016, and he was waived by both New Orleans and Milwaukee last season, signaling that his stock had dipped. After failing to find a suitable NBA offer during the 2017 offseason, Jones signed with the Qingdao Eagles, but his stint in the Chinese Basketball Association was short-lived — he was waived by the Eagles last month after being kicked out of a practice.

When he discussed his move to China earlier this year, Jones suggested he was hoping to parlay a strong performance overseas into another NBA opportunity, but that didn’t happen. Now, he’ll look to rebuild his value and earn another shot at the NBA as he prepares to suit up for Santa Cruz.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/12/17

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Hawks assigned rookie big man John Collins to their G League affiliate today, but only briefly. Collins participated in practice with the Erie BayHawks, then was recalled to the NBA by Atlanta later in the day, the team announced. Collins, who last played on November 30, continues to recover from a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder.
  • The Hawks also assigned guard Tyler Dorsey to their G League affiliate on Tuesday, the team announced in a press release. Dorsey has appeared in nine games with Atlanta this season, averaging 2.4 PPG.

Los Angeles Notes: Ball, Bryant, Teodosic, Gallinari

After Lonzo Ball‘s outspoken father, LaVar Ball, recently made critical comments of the Lakers and head coach Luke Walton, the organization held a private meeting with LaVar, asking him to tone down his remarks, ESPN’s Ramon Shelbourne writes.

The elder Ball confirmed the meeting — which was organized by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka — took place and said both sides finding common ground is critical to both his son and the team.

“It was the best thing, man. Everybody’s going to try to make it an ego thing, like I’m trying to tell them what to do or they’re trying to tell me to tone it down,” LaVar said of the meeting. “It’s not about that. It’s about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.”

Among LaVar’s criticisms were Walton not playing Lonzo for long enough stretches, adding that he could coach his son better. Walton downplayed LaVar’s comments in recent days and has praised Lonzo’s team-first mindset and contributions. As the season — and Lonzo’s career progresses — LaVar said he would continue speaking his mind with the goal of helping his son improve.

“It may sound crazy to other people, but I really just want the best for Lonzo, and the best for Lonzo is going to be what’s best for the organization,” LaVar said. “Because if everybody winning, we good.”

Read up on more news coming out of Los Angeles:

  • Former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has made several comments about Lonzo in recent days and his latest take on the 20-year-old point guard directly addressed his father, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. Bryant said that pressure placed on Lonzo is “completely inconsequential” as long as he proves himself on the court. “The only time that matters is when he has to think of an answer,” Bryant said. “What matters is what he does in the gym before practice, during practice and after practice. That’s the only thing that matters.”
  • Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports profiled Clippers rookie point guard Milos Teodosic, chronicling his journey from one of the most creative passers in the game as an international player to a starter in the NBA.
  • Danilo Gallinari returned to the Clippers lineup after missing 13 games with a glute injury and he will now likely miss several games with a new glute injury, ESPN’s Lawrence Murray writes. Injuries have allowed Gallinari to appear in just 11 games this season, averaging 13.4 PPG. “It’s been that type of season thus far,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “Things can change. Right now, they are, they keep changing back to somebody getting hurt.”

Central Notes: Oladipo, George, Nwaba, Bulls

The Pacers‘ acquisition of Victor Oladipo — along with Domantas Sabonis — in last summer’s Paul George trade was seen by many as a steal for the Thunder. Several months into the season, however, Oladipo’s play has elevated him to star status, Mark Montieth of NBA.com writes.

Through the Pacers’ first 25 games, Oladipo has posted a career-highs in PPG (24.5), RPG (5.3), field-goal percentage (.485%), and three-point shooting percentage (.444%). In his own words, Oladipo has put in all the work necessary to show that he’s a better player than he showed in his first four seasons with the Magic and Thunder.

“Y’all might be surprised,” Oladipo said. “I put in the work. I work every day. I have no limit to how hard I work. I’m trying to be great. There’s no in-between and I can’t settle for anything less.”

Oladipo, still just 25 years old, is also setting other career-highs, including a 47-point performance against the Nuggets over the weekend. The Pacers are also playing like a playoff caliber team, occupying fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 16-11 record; Oladipo has been a major reason for that.

Check out other news around the Central Division:

  • George will make his first appearance as a visiting player on Wednesday when the Thunder visits the Pacers in Indiana. While George’s run with the team included plenty of success, his impending return is the subject of mixed emotions, Jim Ayello of USA Today writes. Former teammates such as Lance Stephenson and Thaddeus Young spoke glowingly of their former teammates while Myles Turner said George did not “leave on the best terms.”
  • David Nwaba was a mere waiver wire acquisition by the Bulls but he has become a vital part of the team, NBA.com’s Sam Smith writes“His skill is he goes out and plays harder than everybody else on the floor,” said Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. As a reserve, Nwaba is averaging 8.3 PPG for the 6-20 Bulls.
  • While Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic‘s violent preseason scuffle that resulted in suspensions and facial surgery captured headlines, the duo’s recent on-court competition for the Bulls has been a pleasant change of pace, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago.
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