In order to combat the rampant player absences and, in turn, postponed games, taking place across the league's landscape due to the NBA's healthy and safety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league has considering expanding rosters from 17 to 18 players. However, conversations between the NBA and the Players Association have reached a stalemate, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. The stalemate is the result of the fact that the league wants the extra roster spot to be restricted to players on two-way contracts, while the union wants the spot to be open to all veteran players.
Two-way spots are intended for players with three years of NBA experience or less, and they allow players to split time between the G League and the regular NBA. In the past, teams have been permitted to roster two two-way players per season. This season, players on two-way contracts are allowed to be active for 50 regular season games.
So far this season, 22 games have been postponed due to teams not having enough players, and there have been a plethora of other instances where teams have been forced to play extremely shorthanded. The league isn't interested in pausing the season, so adding another player to bolster rosters, as well as increasing safety protocols, appears to be their best alternate solution.
The addition of another player to team rosters would at least alleviate some of the wear and tear that players have endured while rosters have been thinned. Putting too many miles on players early in the season has been a concern expressed by some coaches.
"I'm more concerned with health on the floor. We're gonna play players that haven't played a lot of minutes," 76ers coach Doc Rivers said after his team was forced to play with just eight players against the Denver Nuggets earlier this month. "And that's not just for today, that's long-term health with the accumulation of games. The numbers we want to stay away from with our players. So I'm actually more concerned with that than I am, actually, about COVID. And I am concerned about COVID. I think everybody is. The league is, and everyone else is, as well. So yeah, it's a lot of stuff going on."
There's no perfect answer for the league outside of a bubble, but the expansion of rosters could at least help to curb the number of games that needed to be rescheduled. Now, it just comes down to if the two sides can come to an agreement regarding an additional roster spot.