The Los Angeles Lakers have cut Marcus Allen, the team announced on Saturday. This begins the process of trimming their roster down to the league-mandated 15 players (plus a pair of two-way contracts) for the regular season. While the Lakers only have 14 players with guaranteed deals on their roster currently, Dwight Howard’s non-guaranteed contract still counts as one of the 15, provided he makes the roster as expected.
The Lakers technically have until the start of the season to trim their training camp roster down from 20 players to 15, but cutting Allen now will allow him to clear waivers before the start of the season, which will help the team paying him a day or two of extra salary were he to not clear before then.
Allen scored four points on 1-5 shooting while swiping three steals in his only preseason appearance during the Lakers’ final game on Friday, and like David Stockton and Reggie Hearn before him, it’s likely that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him in the Lakers organization. Exhibit 10 contracts — which Allen is likely on — allow NBA teams to pay players up to a $50,000 bonus for going to training camp with their team, getting cut and then signing with their G League affiliate.
The way the Lakers cycled Stockton and Hearn through their final camp spot after South Bay acquired their returning player rights earlier this month would strongly imply that them ending up with the Lakers’ G League team is the intent here. Allen was on South Bay last year and would seem like a logical candidate to return as well, given that the Lakers only signed him for the final few days of training camp.
Now the question remaining is: Who will be the final two cuts of camp? Originally the assumption was that Devontae Cacok and Demetrius Jackson would be the others, and while the latter hasn’t really stood out, Cacok has impressed, averaging 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 60.5% from the field in six games as a wrecking ball of boundless energy for the Lakers. Cacok made a good last impression, too, dropping 16 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes while starting his final preseason game.
Could Cacok have done enough to convince the Lakers to keep him? If they’re not considering it, why weren’t all of these guys cut at once? And who will the final two cuts be?
Jackson is the wild card here — it’s publicly unknown what type of contract he’s on — but it seems like with a roster as locked in as the Lakers, he would have logically come to camp with the expectation that he was unlikely to make the final roster.
I mean, for an anecdotal example of how long Jackson’s odds are, the local broadcast was talking about how he’d spend time in South Bay this season on the air during the Lakers’ final game while Jackson was on the floor. So it follows that he probably came to camp as a way to catch on with South Bay as well (or audition for a bigger deal overseas, potentially). He’s likely to be one of the final two cuts after Allen, barring more catastrophic than expected injury news on Alex Caruso.
Because of the Lakers’ crowded roster, Cacok has to be the next odds-on favorite to be the final roster subtraction, but could he have done enough to beat out Troy Daniels, who only played in two games and shot 30% from behind the arc in a crowded backcourt? Could the Lakers really give sign Cacok to Kostas Antetokounmpo’s two-way contract slot, given that he was seemingly clearly brought in as part of a ploy to appeal to his brother, the reigning league MVP? Could they let DeMarcus Cousins go to open up a spot? Could it be someone even less predictable than these already admittedly unlikely scenarios?
It’s unknown what they’ll do right now, but if the plan was just to cut Cacok and Jackson, it’s not immediately clear why they wouldn’t do it at the same time as Allen. We’ll see what happens over the next few days, but what appeared set to be relatively predictable moves at the end of the roster just got a lot more interesting.