Wondering What It Means to Be Waived in the NBA? Here's What We Know

The NBA isn't always the most straight-forward when explaining the meanings behind its vast array of terminology. Sometimes, a player can be waived, but what does that mean?


Jun. 8 2023, Updated 12:53 p.m. ET

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Much like other professional sports leagues or organizations, the National Basketball Association has created its own policies for its players. Players moving from team to team can feel like a lot from the outside, especially due to the complex language that's used to describe different ways that players can be shuffled around.

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Being "waived" has been a common phrase used when explaining why some NBA players join new teams throughout their careers. For those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of professional basketball, the term doesn't exactly make sense. What does it mean to be waived in the NBA?

What does it mean to be waived in the NBA?

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When a player is waived, this means that they are released from the team before their contract is up. The team is still required to pay the player the money agreed upon in their contract even after they are dismissed, but their spot on the roster is able to be filled by another athlete.

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After the waiver is finalized, other teams have 48 hours to attempt to claim the player for themselves. If the player does not sign with a new team within this time frame, they are considered to be a free agent.

If a waived player is selected by multiple different teams, they will be awarded to the team with the lowest number of wins in the season. Teams must have open spots on their roster before attempting to sign on a player who has been waived. In order to waive a player, teams must contact the NBA commissioner and submit their request for a waiver.

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Source: Getty Images

An NBA team can issue a waiver at any time during the regular season, resulting in the player being removed from the roster. If a team decides to waive a player any time after March 1st, the player cannot be added to the roster of their new team. They will officially be added to their new team during in next season. This ruling helps keep the playoff odds fair for all teams.

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On some occasions, NBA teams can file for Waive Amnesty, which removes the player from the team and remove their contract from the salary cap, eliminating their pay altogether. This, however, is a fairly rare course of action taken by team owners. Once this request is made, a team cannot retract their desire to wave a player. After a waiver has been issued, any professional team can make a claim.

Waivers are pretty routine when it comes to typical player transactions, and similar maneuvers are made when it comes to players joining new teams. This isn't just an NBA thing, and the idea of "waiving" players transcends professional basketball. These waivers also don't come as a surprise to the players, and they're almost asked to expect that they could be waived at one point during their career.

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