The Lakers intend to apply to the league office for a disabled player exception for injured guard Steve Nash, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). If granted, the exception would be worth nearly $4.851MM, or half of his $9.701MM salary for this season.
It was announced yesterday that Nash would miss the entire 2014/15 season due to recurring nerve damage in his back. The Lakers could waive Nash and apply for a salary exclusion if it is determined that he suffered a career-ending injury. The catch is that they would have to wait to apply for that until the one-year anniversary of his last game played, which was on April 8th of last season. The issue with going this route is that it would only give the league a little less than a week before the regular season ended to grant the exclusion. If it was granted it would erase Nash’s salary from the team’s cap, but Los Angeles would still be on the hook for his salary.
It’s unclear if the Lakers intend to use the exception, if granted, to sign a player immediately, or rather to keep it in reserve for a move later on in the season. There aren’t many free agents of consequence who come available midseason. The DPE could also be utilized for salary-matching purposes in a trade, and that route would likely net the team a better player, though the Lakers don’t have much in the way of tradeable assets they would be willing to part with. Plus, they’d only be able to acquire a player who’s on an expiring contract and whose salary is no more than $100K greater than the value of the exception.