The NBA on Tuesday awarded the Lakers a $4.85-million disabled player exception for injured point guard Steve Nash.
The Lakers gain a spending tool that can be used to add one player via free agency or a waiver claim, whom they can pay no more than $4.85 million. Or they can use it instead to trade for one player making up to $4.95 million.
Nash was declared out for the season before opening night because of chronic nerve issues in his back. Soon after, the Lakers applied or the exception, but the NBA needed time to examine Nash's medical records and confirm the team's prognosis.
If the Lakers manage to trade Nash's expiring contract, the exception would expire. If the Lakers acquire a player with the exception first, they would then be able to deal Nash without consequence.
Earlier in the season, the Lakers were granted a $1.5-million disabled player exception for injured rookie power forward Julius Randle, who suffered a broken right leg in the season opener and is out for the season.
The Lakers lost a third player for the season Monday, when swingman Xavier Henry ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in practice.
The exceptions represent half of the salaries of Nash ($9.7 million) and Randle ($3 million). The Lakers might also apply for an exception for Henry, although half of his $1.1-million contract might not be enough for the team to acquire a replacement player.
Disabled player exceptions cannot be combined, or used with the salary of another Laker in trade.
Also, forward Ryan Kelly is sidelined for at least another five weeks with a right hamstring tear. The Lakers have asked the league for a hardship exception, which would allow them to temporarily exceed the 15-man roster maximum.
If granted the hardship exception, the Lakers would have to reduce their roster from 16 to 15 once Kelly returns.
Both disabled player exceptions expire on March 10, 2015.