CBA Explained: NBA Roster Size Limits

by August 16, 2019
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Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat

The amount of players permitted on an NBA roster fluctuates throughout the year, increasing during the offseason to allow teams better opportunities to size up prospective rotation pieces during the summer and training camp before contracting back down when the season begins.

Here are the NBA’s roster size limits leading up to and during the season, as well as limitations on active and inactive players.

Standard Contracts (Offseason): 0-18*

Teams may have as many as 20 players signed to contracts during the offseason. This can include 18 standard contracts and two two-way players, 19 standard contracts and one two-way contract or 20 standard contracts and zero two-way contracts.

The offseason is defined as the day after a team’s last game of a particular campaign (whether that’s a regular season or playoff game) up until the day prior to league’s season opener the next season.

There is no established roster minimum during the offseason.

Standard Contracts (Season): 14-15

Over the course of the NBA regular season teams may have as many as 15 players signed to standard contracts. Unlike during the offseason, this count is not impacted by the number of two-way contracts signed.

Teams are obligated to carry a minimum of 14 players during the course of the regular season, although they are permitted to drop to 13 players for up to two weeks.

Of those 14 players, 12 must be considered Active Players, the remainder of whom would be Inactive Players. In scenarios where teams are temporarily eligible to roster 13 players, they’re expected to have at least 11 Active Players.

Two-Way Players: 0-2

At any point during the year, NBA teams are permitted to have two two-way players under contract. Teams are not required to have two-way contracts.

Other Considerations

Teams particularly ravaged by injuries during the course of a regular season are in some cases permitted to apply for a hardship exception, which would allow them to exceed 15 players during the regular season.

Suspended players do not count toward the team’s roster count, nor do drafted players whose rights are held but who have not been signed to a contract.

For more information about the NBA salary cap, view other CBA Explained stories:

SubjectDate
Exhibit 10 ContractsJune 21, 2019
Qualifying OffersJune 27, 2019
2019-20 Max Contract ValuesJune 29, 2019
The Stretch ProvisionJuly 15, 2019