Julius Randle was supposed to be one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season, but the player L.A. selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft went down with a leg fracture on opening night that will sideline him for the rest of the year.
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement provides for remedies in situations like these, and the Lakers applied for and received a roster exception that will allow them to add a player to replace Randle if that option is one that suddenly becomes desirable.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers were granted the exception, valued at $1.5 million, after it was determined that Randle is “substantially” more likely than not to miss the remainder of his first pro season.
League rules stipulate that the Lakers can use the exception to sign a free-agent replacement for Randle worth up to $1,498,680, which amounts to 50 percent of Randle’s rookie salary.
The Lakers could also choose to use the exception to trade for a player making up to $1,598,680 because trades via such exceptions allow for an extra $100,000. In a trade, though, L.A. can only take on a player in the final year of his existing contract.
There are a lot of qualifiers to the exception, obviously, so it’s far from guaranteed that L.A. will end up using it. The team has until March 10 to do so.
In other news involving injured Lakers, it’s unclear if L.A. has bothered to apply for a similar exception for Steve Nash. There are two primary reasons why they wouldn’t: First, an independent doctor would have to conclude that Nash was physically unable to play the rest of the season, and it’s unclear if that is really the case.
With a great deal of effort, Nash may be able to play every few weeks for a game or two before suffering another setback. But given the state of the team this season, it appears as though an agreement was reached that would spare him the agony of trying to do so, while allowing the team to have a greater sense of continuity with its regularly-used lineups.
L.A. may also be shopping Nash’s $9.7 million expiring contract to use in trade, and while getting a deal done for a player of any real value seems unlikely, it’s perhaps less of a long shot than the league granting an exception for someone who technically may still be able to play, if only very sporadically throughout the season.