On Monday, the NBA granted the Lakers a $1.5-million disabled player exception for injured power forward Julius Randle.
The exception, which expires on March 10, can be used to sign or claim a single player off waivers for $1.5 million, or trade for a player making up to $1.6 million. In each case, the player acquired cannot be under contract beyond the current season. The amount represents half of Randle's $3 million salary.
The Lakers, who have 15 players, would need to waive or trade away a player to open up room to use the exception. Thirteen of the team's players have fully guaranteed contracts. Guards Ronnie Price ($329,202) and Wayne Ellington ($315,646) will see portions of their salaries lock in as of Nov. 15.
On occasion, a team can be given permission to sign a 16th player, but that requires four players to be out for a significant period of time. The Oklahoma City Thunder were recently granted a hardship exception to add a 16th to their roster.
The Lakers won't qualify for hardship with Nick Young (thumb) back in a week or two, while Ryan Kelly (hamstring) is day-to-day.
Randle broke his leg on opening night in a 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers selected the Kentucky forward with the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Randle was at the Lakers practice facility on Monday, beginning the rehabilitation process with the team's trainers.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently indicated that the team would apply for a disabled player exception for injured point guard Steve Nash (back). If approved, the Lakers will also receive a similar exception for $4.9 million (half of Nash's $9.7 million salary), but the NBA must concur with the medical diagnosis that the 40-year-old veteran guard is out for the season.
The Lakers were granted a $1.8-million disabled player exception two seasons ago for Jordan Hill (hip), but it went unused. Hill was able to work his way back from injury to play in the postseason.
If Randle made a surprise return before the end of the season, the Lakers would still be able to keep the replacement player signed with Randle's disabled player exception.