Excluding two-way contracts, the NBA’s rules require teams to carry a minimum of 14 players on their standard 15-man roster.
But for limited windows of up to two weeks at a time, teams can dip below 14 players. That often happens around the league’s annual trade deadline, since teams can send out multiple players in deals without acquiring as many in return.
In the case of the Houston Rockets, it wasn’t directly the deals they made, but instead the buyouts that resulted from their sequence of trades at the Feb. 10 deadline. With veterans Danny Green, John Wall, and Justin Holiday all being waived, the Rockets currently have only 13 players on their roster with standard contracts.
The last of those three veterans to be waived was Holiday on Feb. 13. Thus, Houston has until Monday, Feb. 27 to fill that slot.
Internally, Houston could choose to convert one of its two-way players — Trevor Hudgins and Darius Days — to a standard deal. However, there doesn’t seem to be much need to do so, since neither player is close to hitting his 50-game NBA limit, per two-way rules.
If the Rockets want to sign either to a multi-year standard deal, that could be an option, as they did with Daishen Nix late in the 2021-22 season. However, it would be just as feasible in the coming weeks.
Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Houston uses the open roster spot to evaluate a free agent or G League callup, particularly with backcourt starters Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. still sidelined with injuries. The rebuilding Rockets (13-46) are short-handed and enter Sunday with eight straight losses, so more depth couldn’t hurt.
Whatever the case, some sort of transaction from general manager Rafael Stone should be coming by early in the week.