After weeks of speculation, the Los Angeles Lakers finally signed the floor-spacing big the team was looking for in Christian Wood. Wood signed a two-year deal with the team and takes LA’s roster up to 14 players.
NBA teams are allocated 15 players on the active roster and it is assumed by many that the purple and gold may save a spot on the roster for a future buyout candidate. However, that may not be the best way to go for the Lake Show.
The potential buyout market isn’t great and really won’t come into effect until after the trade deadline. If need be, the Lakers can clear a spot on the roster via trade if there is a buyout target that makes sense. Instead of leaving the roster spot empty, it makes more sense to utilize it.
So, who should the Lakers sign in that 15th roster spot? It shouldn’t be external and the team should follow suit with the same strategy used with Austin Reaves. Los Angeles should convert D’Moi Hodge’s two-way contract into a standard NBA contract and make him the 15th player on the roster.
Why D’Moi Hodge makes perfect sense for the 15th spot on the Lakers roster
The most simple answer is that he earned it. Hodge was one of the biggest standouts for the purple and gold in the Summer League as he brings something to the table that Los Angeles needs. Hodge is a solid two-way player with legitimate three and D potential.
He is not going to blow anyone away with his shot creator or facilitation but he can guard the perimeter at an average to above-average level and can hit shots. Those traits are going to make him a valuable player in the NBA.
It is not like Hodge needs much time to develop. Like Reaves, Hodge is coming into the league at an older age. Hodge is turning 25 in December. He is older than Jarred Vanderbilt, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Maxwell Lewis, Max Christie and Jalen Hood-Schifino. He is only five months younger than Reaves. When you are that old, there is not much more developing that needs to be done.
Speaking of Christie, Hodge also adds depth in an area that may really need it this upcoming season. Los Angeles only has two shooting guards on the roster with Reaves and Christie. There is a lot of hype around Christie but he still hasn’t proven that he can be a consistent NBA rotation guy. Adding Hodge to the mix gives the team another option to allow the younger player to develop.
As a two-way player, Hodge can already do this as he can play up to 50 games with the NBA club. So why should the Lakers convert his contract rather than leave the roster spot open and have him play on a two-way?
There are two primary reasons. First, by converting his contract, the Lakers can keep him in LA for longer than the 2023-24 season. Hodge will be a restricted free agent after the season if he is kept on a two-way deal, which allows him the ability to leave the team.
Additionally, two-way players are not eligible for postseason rosters. Hodge may not be expected to play a big role in a potential postseason roster but the team wouldn’t even have the ability to utilize him if stuck on a two-way deal.