Pacers waive former Butler star Kelan Martin just before contract becomes guaranteed

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Indiana Pacers guard Kelan Martin (21) blocks a shot b Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Detroit.
Indiana Pacers guard Kelan Martin (21) blocks a shot b Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Detroit.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Pacers waived guard Kelan Martin on Thursday, one day before the second year of his two-year deal became guaranteed. The official guarantee date for standard NBA contracts is technically Jan. 10, but since players need to clear waivers by then, Friday is the cutoff deadline.

Martin, who is currently in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, averaged 6.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 27 games this season. The former Butler star drained a season-high three 3s in his last outing, a 116-108 loss to Charlotte at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Dec. 29.

Martin's waiving opens up a roster spot for Indiana, which could be used to sign fan favorite Lance Stephenson to a guaranteed deal. The 6-5 swingman, who was drafted 40th overall by the Pacers in 2010, signed a 10-day hardship contract with the franchise that ends Jan. 10.

In the third game of his third stint with the team, Stephenson made history Wednesday night by scoring an NBA-record 20 points off the bench in the first quarter. He finished the game with 30 points, three shy of tying his career high, as the Pacers fell 129-121 to the Nets.

Undrafted rookie point guard Keifer Sykes and reserve swingman Oshae Brissett were also on non-guaranteed contracts, but since they weren't waived with Martin their deals should be guaranteed through the end of the 2021-22 season. Sykes signed a two-year deal last week with a team-option for the second year. Brissett inked a two-year deal in April with a team-option for the second season.

Sykes is averaging 10.4 points through four games while shooting 34.8% on 3-pointers. Brissett has appeared in 28 games, averaging 6.2 points and shooting 37.1% from beyond the arc.

More roster changes could be on the way as Indiana deals with a logjam created by a COVID-19 outbreak. The team signed four players to 10-day hardship contracts — Stephenson, Justin Anderson, Ahmad Caver and Nate Hinton — to maintain a healthy roster, but starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon, reserve guard Jeremy Lamb and rookie guard Chris Duarte recently exited the league's health and safety protocols. Starting guard Caris LeVert, reserve big men Goga Bitadze and Isaiah Jackson, and swingman T.J. Warren remain in the protocols but could rejoin the team soon, too.

Warren, who is in the final year of a four-year deal, has not played this season as he continues recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot.

NBA teams are permitted to have 15 players plus two, two-way players for a 17-man roster. Indiana's current roster, including the aforementioned 10-day hardship contracts, stands at 20.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers waive Kelan Martin as players come out of COVID protocols

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