Lakers limping along with partial roster

Lakers can pick up a 16th player to help with their injury situation

The Lakers were granted a hardship exception by the NBA last week to increase their roster to 16 players but decided against using it before it expired two days later.

With injuries to Xavier Henry (Achilles'), Steve Nash (back), Julius Randle (leg) and Ryan Kelly (hamstring), the Lakers have had just 11 healthy players the last two weeks. The normal regular-season maximum is 15 players.

The Lakers worked out several players and had discussions with free-agent forward Earl Clark before declining to add a 16th player.

If they wanted, the Lakers could petition the league again and presumably receive permission a second time to use the hardship exception. If they took advantage of it, they would need to get back down to 15 players once Kelly returned.

The second-year forward is roughly three to four weeks away. He was seen jogging Sunday on an anti-gravity treadmill that lowered impact on his body at the team's practice facility.

In addition to showing interest in Clark, currently playing in the Development League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Lakers worked out free agents Quincy Miller, Gal Mekel (now with the New Orleans Pelicans), Tyrus Thomas, Dwight Buycks and Jordan Hamilton.

While the hardship exception wouldn't give the Lakers any additional spending tools outside of the roster spot, the team was granted two disabled player exceptions for Nash ($4.9 million) and Randle ($1.5 million).

The Lakers would likely save their disabled player exceptions for other opportunities, perhaps in a trade before the Feb. 19 deadline.

Ronnie the realist

Ronnie Price wasn't overjoyed Sunday when given the starting nod over Jeremy Lin, saying, "It doesn't mean anything to me."

"Guys can start the game, but what matters is who's finishing it," he said. "I've started before in my career and played 12 minutes a night as a starter."

Price had three points and three assists in 26 minutes of the Lakers' 104-87 loss to New Orleans. Price finished the game, not Lin, who had three points and four assists in 19 minutes.

Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

Pincus is a Times correspondent.

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