The Indiana Pacers have waived forward Jakeenan Gant, the team announced Wednesday. With only two games remaining on the team’s condensed preseason schedule, the move likely signals intention on behalf of head coach Nate McMillan to increase minutes and reps for his core rotation players over the remainder of the abbreviated slate.
“These next couple of days, and really the days that we have between now and opening night are very important,” McMillan said at Tuesday’s practice while sharing his thoughts on building team chemistry with so many new faces.
Gant, who tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds in 42 minutes across four games for Indiana’s Summer League team, logged less than three minutes of action in India without otherwise registering in the boxscore, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the two-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year’s journey with the Pacers will end here.
Along with C.J. Wilcox and Amida Brimah, Gant signed an Exhibit-10 contract, which means he’ll earn a $50,000 bonus if he reports to the Mad Ants.
Should they opt to continue their careers in the G League, Brimah seems like the likeliest candidate to eventually join Gant with Indiana’s affiliate, if cut. With Fort Wayne having already acquired his rights from the Austin Spurs in exchange for the rights to forward Jordan Barnett, he’ll automatically classify as a returning player for the Mad Ants once waived. On top of that, assuming Goga Bitadze recovers in the near future from his sprained ankle, and emergency depth is no longer needed at center behind Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, the 7-foot Ghanaian’s raw defensive potential seems as though it would benefit from the opportunity for extra run time with Steve Gansey’s squad.
Wilcox, however, is more of a question mark. The 28-year-old sharpshooter wasn’t initially sold on making another go at returning to the NBA after he ruptured his Achilles ahead of last season, and he missed the entire two-game set overseas with a quad injury.
That said, until he and Brimah officially gain clarity on their fates, Indiana’s roster currently stands at 19, including the two-way contracts of Brian Bowen and Naz Mitrou-Long.