The NBA’s deadline for teams to finalize their rosters is on October 23 at 5 p.m. Teams have to have a maximum of 15 guaranteed and three two-way contracts on their rosters by that date. The Washington Wizards are currently at 17 guaranteed contracts and two two-way players on their books. This means that it’s decision time for the front office: they have to move on from at least two players in one week.
The obvious mechanism to clear roster spots is via trades. However, this is easier said than done at this stage of the offseason. Many teams have finalized their depth charts and finances. A lot of them are in the same predicament as Washington and don’t have available roster spots. Since the Wizards have to clear two spots, it has to be an unbalanced trade with the Wizards not receiving any players in return. This is difficult to do right before the season.
Most teams might want to wait until the regular season to see how they are looking and what upgrades they need. However, the Wizards can’t do that. They need to act now.
This means that the Wizards may have to make some cuts instead. The obvious candidates are Anthony Gill, Xavier Cooks, Ryan Rollins, and Patrick Baldwin Jr.
These players didn’t play too many minutes in the two preseason games and the way the coach Wes Unseld Jr. seemingly has set his rotations, they project to be on the back end of the depth chart. Rollins and Baldwin Jr. are young, developmental players who can spend some time in the G League. This leaves Cooks and Gill as the odd men out.
Unless the Wizards find a new home for Danilo Gallinari, Delon Wright, and Landry Shamet in the next week, Cooks and Gill are the likeliest players to get waived. This would not be an ideal scenario as this team needs experienced veterans who can lead by example in the locker room. However, the NBA is a cruel business. The day to finalize the rosters is a reminder of that, and this year will be no different.