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Pacers free up roster spot by waiving Kelan Martin

Indiana’s roster is already changing before the trade deadline.

Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After agreeing to push the guarantee date back on his contract twice during the offseason in hopes of making the 15-man roster and then amending his contract to include a partial guarantee while giving the team flexibility, the Indiana Pacers are waiving Kelan Martin, the team announced Thursday.

With Lance Stephenson injecting life back into Gainbridge Fieldhouse while scoring 20-straight points for the Pacers in the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets, the move means the Pacers are down to 14 players on the active roster, with one spot now available.

Martin, who has yet to be cleared from health and safety protocols, played 27 games for the Pacers, averaging 6.3 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes per contest. Despite shooting only 29 percent from deep, the Butler product had some standout moments on both ends of the floor, such as when he scored 11 points during the fourth quarter while moonlighting as Rudy Gobert’s primary defender and switching out against the Utah Jazz, but he lacks Stephenson’s playmaking touch — assuming the prodigal point wing is ultimately signed.

Once the roster is healthy, if that change is made and Chris Duarte slides back to the bench with Justin Holiday continuing as a starter, the 24-year-old rookie will likely have more opportunities to operate off-ball and out of second-side actions than what otherwise would’ve been possible in lineups featuring Martin or Lamb.

Meanwhile, with Duane Washington Jr. averaging 15.7 points on two-way contract over the last three games and showing some burst in transition with shifty finishes, the depth chart at shooting guard is at least temporarily thinner than what would’ve been the case if the team had exercised patience in clearing the spot while attempting to chase buyouts or trades.

While clearly a tough break for Kelan, the roster flexibility created by the waiver likely means the salaries of Keifer Sykes and Oshae Brissett will become fully guaranteed ahead of the deadline. Once Stephenson’s 10-day hardship deal expires, the Pacers can either sign him outright, if there’s mutual interest, or sign him to another 10-day deal and play wait-and-see before retaining him.