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Lakers waive Alfonzo McKinnie, open up an extra roster spot

What is Rob Pelinka planning?

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2021 Play-In Tournament - Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

In a somewhat surprising move, the Los Angeles Lakers have waived the non-guaranteed contract of Alfonzo McKinnie, opening up an extra roster spot for the team to use in free agency.

Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news. McKinnie was only making $2 million, so this does not clear any cap space for the Lakers given how far they are over the cap, but it does allow them to sign an extra player or just save some cash.

Prior to waiving McKinnie, the Lakers only had two roster spots left to use in free agency. They now could theoretically sign up to three more players. After letting McKinnie go, here is who is left after the team’s huge trade for Russell Westbrook and flurry of free agency moves over the last 48 hours:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Anthony Davis
  3. Russell Westbrook
  4. Marc Gasol
  5. Dwight Howard
  6. Trevor Ariza
  7. Wayne Ellington
  8. Malik Monk
  9. Kent Bazemore
  10. Carmelo Anthony
  11. Talen Horton-Tucker
  12. Kendrick Nunn
  13. Open Spot
  14. Open Spot
  15. Open Spot

Now, the real question is: Was there a specific player that general manager Rob Pelinka had in mind that he wanted to make room for with this move? Or is this just a bit of pre-emptive book keeping?

Alternatively, it’s also possible the Lakers just wanted to have room to add two more players while still leaving another roster spot open for the midseason buyout market. And if they were planning to cut him anyway, letting McKinnie go now while teams still have spots left for him to compete for was the right thing to do.

We’ll likely find out the full reasoning for this move over the hours and days to come, but for now, this is at least eyebrow-raising timing that leaves us to wonder if Pelinka has one more trick up his sleeve in free agency.

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