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NBA Rumors: Lakers ‘don’t have an immediate plan’ to use the roster spot created by stretching Luol Deng

It sounds like the Lakers aren’t rushing to make a free agency signing to fill the roster spot they opened up by buying out Luol Deng.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have bought out the final two years of the contract Luol Deng signed with their prior front office in the ill-fated summer of 2016, it’s natural to start wondering what the team will do with their extra cap space and roster spot.

Given that Deng gave up nearly $7.5 million in order to become a free agent (giving the Lakers $38 million in cap space for next summer), it seems clear that the team is firmly hunting for stars in 2019 free agency, if that wasn’t clear already.

What is less clear — at least as of this writing — is what the team will do with the roster spot they opened up by parting with Deng now. Thanks to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, though, we know that it doesn’t sound like a signing to fill that void is imminent:

As a refresher, the Lakers can bring 20 players to training camp, with 15 guaranteed contracts and a pair of two-way contracts. Both of the team’s two-way deals are currently spoken for (Alex Caruso and Travis Wear), but by buying out Deng, the Lakers have one open camp spot and one guaranteed spot up for grabs.

The Lakers could fill that spot with one of their training camp invites (Jeffrey Carroll, Joel Berry II, Johnathan Williams or an as-yet-unsigned fourth name) or they could convert one of their two-way players to a full-time contract (and thus open up a two-way contract for another player).

Alternately — and this seems more likely based on current information — is that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will maintain an old Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss favorite: Keeping an open roster spot for an uneven trade or midseason signing.

Still, keeping the spot they created open would allow the Lakers to troll the buyout market midseason and see if there were any bought out veterans willing to join LeBron James for a playoff run, or take on an unwanted contract in some sort of one-for-two player swap.

It’s still early, and the Lakers potentially could come up with some plans for their final roster spot, but for now it seems they’re going to stand pat and survey their options, at least for a while.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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