Following the trade deadline, all teams only have the NBA buyout market to work with if they want to reinforce their rosters. In the 2020-21 season, all franchises will be allowed to have 15 players on full-time contracts and another two on two-way deals. For the purpose of this article, we'll be ignoring the latter category.
The likes of Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin have already agreed to deals with new teams. Pickings are slim in the buyout market right now, but players need to be waived by April 9 to retain their playoff eligibility. As such, several names may become available over the next week.
NBA Buyout Market: Opportunity to gain the edge in a tight season
While it's generally title contenders who actively target players in the NBA buyout market, the playoff race is fairly close in both conferences. Teams are unlikely to leave things to a chance and will be looking to max out their roster if suitable names appear on the market.
On that note, let's look at five teams with open roster spots who could make a move soon.
#1 LA Clippers (Slots available - 2)
The LA Clippers are already active in the NBA buyout market. They're reportedly in negotiations with DeMarcus Cousins and the move could be completed soon. But even after onboarding Cousins, the Clippers will have another roster spot available to use.
Considering the list of injuries that head coach Tyronn Lue has to deal with, the front office may not think twice before venturing into the market again. Losing to the Orlando Magic just days after they traded away their top three players doesn't inspire confidence in the current roster either.
#2 Golden State Warriors (Slots available - 2)
Despite Stephen Curry playing at an MVP level, the Golden State Warriors are not guaranteed a playoff berth right now. The Dubs are barely holding on to the final play-in spot in the West and need every possible help that they can get.
The Warriors moved injured center Marquese Chriss and point guard Brad Wanamaker ahead of the trade deadline in what were salary dumps. Now they need someone to run the second unit. Considering James Wiseman's defensive struggles, GM Bob Myers might even be on the lookout for a big man.
#3 New York Knicks (Slots available - 2)
The New York Knicks' biggest trade of the season saw them acquire Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons. With all due respect to Rose, the Knicks could've certainly pursued bigger names ahead of the trade deadline.
They may be occupying the fourth seed in the East, but the Knicks have found it difficult to beat winning teams and have a gruesome schedule until the end of the season. Mitchell Robinson's potentially season-ending foot surgery also leaves them shorthanded in the big man category.
The Knicks were in the running for Andre Drummond but lost out to the LA Lakers. Considering that the playoff race is so tight in the East, the front office may be forced to test the waters of the NBA buyout market again.
#4 LA Lakers (Slots available - 1)
The LA Lakers have won just twice since LeBron James hobbled off with a high ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks. With both LeBron and AD set to miss the majority of games in April, Frank Vogel would appreciate additional help to prevent the Lakers from sliding down the seedings in the Western Conference.
The Purple and Gold have already acquired the services of Andre Drummond but they still have one roster spot left. Considering the depth of the Brooklyn Nets right now, the Lakers' front office will have no doubts about foraying into the NBA buyout market again. Given the nature of injuries that they're dealing with, the defending champs could possibly target 3-and-D wings to fill the final spot.
#5 Miami Heat (Slots available - 1)
The Miami Heat are well aware of how difficult this season can be. Last year's finalists had a terrible start to their current campaign due to COVID-related absences and other injuries. Even though they've managed to put together a well-rounded roster now, the Heat only recently went on a six-game losing streak.
The Miami Heat are languishing in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings and GM Pat Riley might want to bring external help to remedy the situation. The Trevor Ariza trade hasn't worked out as intended and the Heat also lost the high-volume scoring of Kelly Olynyk in the move for Victor Oladipo.
The Heat were the favorites to land LaMarcus Aldridge, but he ended up joining the Brooklyn Nets. As such, the Heat front office has several reasons to actively recruit talent in the NBA buyout market.