What Does Waived Mean in the NBA? Explanation

The NBA is a premier league of 450 players divided into 30 teams trying to win the most coveted NBA Finals Trophy. However, teams want to maximize their time and talents by building a 15-person team with the highest chance of winning games, making it into the playoffs, and hopefully winning the championship.

One way in the process is by placing players on the waivers.

So, what does being waived mean in the NBA, and how does that affect a player and his team?

If an NBA player under contract is waived by their team, other interested teams have up to 48 hours to claim him under his existing salary. Suppose the waived player is not claimed within the prescribed time, he will become an unrestricted free agent, where he can sign with other teams under a different contract.

Let’s try to unravel this technicality and learn more about what happens if an NBA player is waived.

What does being waived mean in the NBA

Placing players on the waiver wire or simply ‘waiving’ is a type of NBA transaction when a team is looking to release a player to give room for the roster or the salary cap.

The waived player will stay on waivers for 48 hours, where any other interested teams can claim him along with his current contract.

If a player goes unclaimed after the expiration of the 48 hours, he will be treated as an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team that will require his service.

Why do teams waive their players?

With only 15 slots, NBA teams need everyone to maximize the potential of getting the right pieces to help them get deeper into the playoffs or even reach the playoffs for other teams.

So, if a team believes that a player is not suited to be included in the roster for whatever reason, they can release him into the waiver wire in the hope that another team will pick him up, along with his salary.

Upon releasing a player, the team now has a vacant slot where they can sign another player that can improve their current roster. Teams also sometimes waive injured players to maximize the 15-man roster.

Another reason for waiving a player is to free up room in the salary cap. By releasing players into the waivers, they can transfer the waived player’s salary to the team that claims him.

How does an NBA team waive a player?

 When an NBA team decides to place a player on the waiver wire, they notify all the NBA Teams regarding the availability. Teams will then have 48 hours to decide if they will claim the player while considering his current contract.

While waiving players is theoretically simple, most waived players, especially those with a large contract, will go unclaimed and be free agents upon release. This is because teams who claim a waived player will have to fit his entire salary into the team’s current salary cap.

Due to the salary cap issue, most teams can only claim players under minimum salary contracts. NBA Teams are also aware of the January 10 deadline, wherein contracts after this date become guaranteed. So, player waivers often happen before this date.

What happens when a waived player is claimed?

If a waived player is claimed within the 48 hours, they will now be part of the team who claimed them. However, since the salary cap issue is crucial, most waived players clear waivers and sign as free agents.

For waived players with large contracts, interested teams may wait for the end of the 48 hours before trying to renegotiate their contract.

What happens if more than one team claims a waived player?

If two or more teams try to claim the waived player within the 48-hour deadline, the team with the lowest spot in the current NBA standing or the team with the lowest winning percentage will ‘win’ the claim for the player.

This gives worse teams a competitive advantage in taking in players they believe can help them move forward.

What happens if a waived player isn’t claimed?

If a player isn’t waived within 48 hours after being waived, he will be released from his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent (UFA).

Unrestricted Free Agents will have no more obligation to their previous team and can now sign with any team that offers them a contract.

Claimed Players Playoff Eligibility

While there is no deadline for waiving players, teams must waive them on or before March 1, 11:59PM ET, so they will still be eligible for playoffs.

To clarify, if a player is placed on waivers before the March 1 deadline, he can still sign with a new team until the end of the regular season and still be illegible to play in the playoffs.

What is the difference between waived and bought out?

Teams placing players on the waiver wire decide that a player doesn’t deserve a slot in the roster. However, buying out is different. A buyout happens if the player and the team mutually agree to part ways. The catch is the player needs to pay an agreed amount of his contract.

Before We “Wave” Goodbye

Getting waived is one of the many confusing transactions NBA players may have to endure in the competitive NBA sphere. It is also a way for NBA teams to free up some salary space or to open a slot to sign another player that can hopefully be the missing piece of their playoff run.

To summarize, teams who decide to waive a player will have to inform all the other NBA teams regarding the availability and will have 48 hours to determine if they will claim the player. Once the 48 hours pass, the waived player will be treated as an unrestricted free agent, where he can sign with other teams.

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