General Managers asked for more roster flexibility heading into Orlando — if a player tested positive for coronavirus or suffered an injury, they wanted a replacement on hand.
It looks like they will get their wish: The NBA will expand to 17 player rosters for restart in Orlando, up from the standard 15, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The league also will expand the pool of players that can be signed to the roster.
The replacement players also could fill in for players who choose not to come to Orlando, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN.
Teams had wanted this to happen. While the league office was hesitant because it didn’t want to add more people to the bubble, allowing 17 player rosters is the only way having replacement players actually worked.
If teams could only bring 15 players into the bubble and then one tested positive, his replacement would have to be brought into the bubble, quarantined, and then practice to get up to speed with the team — by that point, the original player might be cleared to play again. Having an inactive player in the bubble who practices with the team allows a replacement to step right in… even if the replacement isn’t going to play much.
Come the playoffs, coaches usually shrink their rotations to seven or eight players. At that point, if a rotation player goes tests positive no two-way player can step in and help. Teams will just tighten up the rotation and hope he recovers in time to play again this season.
Expanding the pool of players to be signed was smart, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team sign Jamal Crawford for the playoffs. He may be a deep bench player at this point, but coaches like to have tested veterans on hand when heading into the postseason.