Now that the NBA has settled on a plan to restart the 2019-20 season, which will include the 22 teams with the best records in the league in Orlando, other details are beginning to get ironed out. Some issues like daily testing have yet to be solidified, however, the bubble in Orlando could potentially include 44 extra players. The league is planning on allowing teams to carry 17-man rosters at Disney World, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, which gives each of the 22 teams an extra two players to bring along.
Teams were hoping that the league would make this decision, as it was previously hesitant on adding more people to the campus-like environment for fear of spreading COVID-19 even further, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. But giving teams that insurance policy to have extra players on site, rather than having to call players outside of the bubble to fly to Orlando and self quarantine in the event someone gets injured or sick is an easier route to take.
Not only will two-way players be eligible to be considered as one of the two extra roster spots, but players who were on an NBA or G League contract either this season or last will also be in the pool of names teams can select from. Guys like Jamal Crawford and JR Smith, both of whom haven’t played a single NBA game this year will be at the top of the list as potential players teams could target. Crawford last played with the Phoenix Suns during the 2018-2019 season, while Smith played 11 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season before being waived by the team last July.
Expanding rosters will also be easier for teams who want to bring two-way players, but don’t want to convert them to NBA contracts just yet. Rookie Lugentz Dort, for example, who started the last 21 games for Oklahoma City before the hiatus would most likely be brought to Orlando by the team. With rosters being expanded to 17 players, the Thunder can bring him on without having to convert him to an NBA contract, and can negotiate a deal in the offseason when he’s set to become a restricted free agent.
This decision to expand the roster sizes shows how fluid this situation still is as the league attempts to resume play on July 30. Just last week, it was reported that the league wasn’t going to allow players like Crawford or Smith because they weren’t signed to NBA contracts this season. International players were also out of the running, but as the league continues down the path of trying to restart games, things continue to change as new information comes in.
A “transaction window” is expected to start on June 22 and run through July 1, in which teams will be allowed to sign additional players to their rosters before they travel to Orlando.