Lakers granted hardship exception to extend roster to 16 players

Lakers granted hardship exception to increase their roster to 16 players

The Lakers have been granted a hardship exception by the NBA to increase their roster to 16 players.

With injuries to Xavier Henry (Achilles' tendon), Steve Nash (back), Julius Randle (leg) and Ryan Kelly (hamstring), the Lakers have had just 11 healthy players for the last two weeks.

The normal regular season maximum is 15 players.  If the Lakers do take advantage of the hardship exception, they'll need to get back down to 15 once Kelly returns.

The second-year forward is roughly three to four weeks away.  On Sunday, Kelly put in some work on the anti-gravity treadmill at the team's practice facility.

The Lakers have been linked to free agent forward Earl Clark, who is currently playing in the NBA Development League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

The team also recently 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 doesn't give the Lakers any additional spending tools, outside of the roster spot, the franchise was previously granted two disabled player exceptions for Nash ($4.9 million) and Randle ($1.5 million).

If Clark is the answer, his market rate would presumably be a minimum contract.

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

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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