According to the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Pincus, the Lakers and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have sent a request to the NBA for a disabled player exception; the request was sent in just before Tuesday’s deadline. This application comes in the wake of the devastating news that F/C Jordan Hill will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury.
According to Pincus, a disabled player exception can be awarded to a team when a player is projected to be out for the season (until at least June 15). If this request were granted (the league’s response could come sometime in the next week), the Lakers would then gain an additional $1.78 million in spending power.
The amount the Lakers can gain in additional cap space is relevant to half of Hill’s 2012-13 contract, or $1.78M. This exception can be used to sign a free agent or to acquire a player in the final year of his contract, making up to $1.88 million.
In order for the NBA to approve a disabled player exception, the league must evaluate all medical records related to the injury as well as verify that Hill’s recovery time is legitimate.
The following is a list of a few available free agents the Lakers may consider if granted the disabled player exception:
- Kenyon Martin (PF): both the Lakers and New York Knicks have been reported as being interested in the 34-year-old forward’s services this season. There have been reservations about Martin’s impact on the locker room and his volatile attitude, which could add even more drama to already drama-filled season for the Lakers. Martin is unique, however, in that he can defend multiple positions well, something the Lakers certainly lack off the bench.
- Chris Andersen (C): nicknamed “Birdman”, the 34-year-old active rebounder and defender could help fill the bench void created by Hill’s injury. Andersen, like Martin, is another volatile player who might not be worth the risk for the Lakers this season.
- Delonte West (PG/SG): another potential locker room problem here with West. After being released from the Dallas Mavericks for his behavior earlier this season, the Lakers may want to stay clear of West and his baggage. Despite this, however, West is an above average defender at the 1 and 2 positions, and he can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting ability.
- Long shot: Derek Fisher (PG): with the report that backup point guard Steve Blake continues to experience complications with his abdominal injury, could the Lakers consider adding a familiar face in Fisher for the long haul? It’s possible and Fisher would certainly appeal to the long-time Lakers’ Fisher-fans, but it seems like a long shot at best.
- Trade: the disabled player exception can also be used in a trade. If the Lakers continue to struggle as the trade deadline nears (Feb. 21), don’t be surprised if this exception is used in a trade to bring back a player in the final year of his contract, making up to $1.88 million.
The Lakers should receive a response from the league in less than a week. If granted, it will be yet another asset at GM Mitch Kupchak’s disposal to potentially improve the Lakers’ roster this season.
* The majority of the information in this article was provided from Eric Pincus’s report.