Long(shot) list of players fits within Steve Nash disabled exception

Aside from the Nash exception, Lakers are expected to sign free-agent forward Earl Clark

The Lakers were granted a $4.85 million disabled-player exception on Tuesday for injured point guard Steve Nash.

What that means for a future Lakers' acquisition isn't as straightforward. The exception is a spending tool that can be used to add one player via free agency or a waiver claim. The team can pay that player no more than $4.85 million. It can also use the exception to trade for one player making up to $4.95 million.

Free agents who might be worth close to $5 million include shooter Ray Allen and center Emeka Okafor, but are those players more likely to choose to join the 3-11 Lakers or a contending team? The answer seems clear to be the latter.

Teams generally need to send out a player or players to match salary to acquire a player via trade; the exception enables the Lakers to get around that complication.

If a player is on a one- or two-year contract at a minimum salary, he is eligible to be traded without any salary matching.  A disabled-player exception is unnecessary in this case -- although if a player is on the third year of a three-year minimum contract, like Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, a disabled-player exception would be needed despite his $915,243 salary.

Green is also quite valuable to the Warriors. Just because a player fits within the Nash exception doesn't mean he's available in trade -- often the opposite.

Another example is Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 21.6 points a game while earning "only" $2.0 million this season. Why would the Bulls let him go?

The league may give the Lakers permission to temporarily increase their roster to 16 via a hardship exception.  The Lakers have four injured players (Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Nash). Once Kelly returns, in roughly five weeks from a hamstring tear, the Lakers would need to return to 15 players.  

The Lakers are expected to sign free-agent forward Earl Clark, possibly waiving Henry, who tore his Achilles on Monday in practice. If Henry is cut, the Lakers would no longer be eligible for the hardship exception but would still be at the maximum of 15 with Clark.

To use the disabled-player exception, the Lakers would have to open an additional roster spot.

The list of players who are mathematically attainable within the Nash disabled-player exception is relatively long:

Atlanta Hawks: DeMarre Carroll, Elton Brand, John Jenkins, Pero Antic

Brooklyn Nets: Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko

Charlotte Hornets: Bismack Biyombo, Gary Neal, Jeffrey Taylor

Chicago Bulls: Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler

Dallas Mavericks: Greg Smith, Jae Crowder

Denver Nuggets: Darrell Arthur, Nate Robinson

Detroit Pistons: Jonas Jerebko, Joel Anthony, Luigi Datome, Kyle Singler

Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green

Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverley

Note that the Lakers also have a $1.5-million disabled-player exception for Julius Randle (leg).  The list of players available is a subset of the aforementioned named.

Additionally, some players are not eligible to be traded until mid-December or January.

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

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