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Lakers plan to sign 14th player by start of training camp

Rob Pelinka says the Lakers don’t intend on going into the regular season with a full roster, for a variety of reasons.

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Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Russell Westbrook Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Training camp is less than a week away and the Los Angeles Lakers have 18 players under contract, including 13 guaranteed contracts, three Exhibit 10 contracts and a pair of two-way deals.

While the Lakers could start the regular season with as many as 15 guaranteed contracts, the team’s general manager Rob Pelinka said that the plan is to only sign one more player to a guaranteed contract before training camp.

“We do have two open roster spots, 14 and 15,” Pelinka said on Thursday. “Most likely 15 will be held (open), just with the tax implications and also holding that potentially for the buyout deadline. That’s usually a tool that a lot of contenders use. So I think there’s a likelihood there.”

But Pelinka also didn’t want to commit to anything, even if he made it sounds pretty likely that spot No. 14 gets filled in the next few days.

“We’re never absolute, we’re always fluid and anything could be presented. And we are in kind of our final evaluations on what to do with the 14th spot,” Pelinka said. “That’s something that we will make the decision on and around before camp starts on Tuesday. So we’re still kind of evaluating that as we speak.”

There are a few ways the Lakers can go with their final roster spot. They can sign one of the few remaining veteran free agents left on the open market, or they could promote one of their younger players on Exhibit 10 or two-way contracts to a non-guaranteed contract.

I’d argue the latter is more likely — especially given that Pelinka just mentioned tax implications — because it would save them money and give them flexibility for the post-trade deadline market. But that’s just my opinion.

One other option they have is to use the $2.7 million trade exception they acquired in their salary-dumping trade with the Memphis Grizzlies to acquire more established talent, but that would likely require some form of draft compensation, which the Lakers aren’t in the best position to provide.

But whichever direction Pelinka and the front office ultimately choose, expect there to be at least one more roster move before training camp tips off. Let us know who you want it to be (or think it will be) in the comments below.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.