While the Lakers have been smacked hard by injuries in the last week, there is one silver lining that is likely to become relevant this week. Dating back to the start of last weekend, the Lakers saw Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, and Troy Brown Jr. join Anthony Davis for the last three games.
The team did manage two wins in that three-game span and, as a result of the absences, could be set to receive some reinforcements. By having four players miss three games, the Lakers can officially apply for a hardship exception.
The Lakers would need 4 players to miss 3 games before hardship eligibility. Clock would start tonight since Reaves/Brown played last game - so after Monday's game vs. Nuggets https://t.co/ncYHu1qQbX— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 6, 2023
A hardship exception is a temporary roster spot granted to a team who has met the qualifications mentioned. For the Lakers, it would pave the way for them to sign a player to a 10-day contract.
There are a couple of caveats here. First, the Lakers would have to apply for the exception and the Commissioner would have to grant it, though that should be more of a mere formality. The extra roster spot, though is only available so long as the Lakers have four players out. Once one of the aforementioned AD, Reaves, Walker or Brown can return, they would have to comply with the 15 roster spots again.
The hardship exception contract, which would most likely be a 10-day deal in this case, does count against the luxury tax, which is noteworthy for the penny-pinching Lakers. However, considering the team just signed a 10-day contract, it wouldn’t likely stop them from signing someone.
It’s interesting timing considering the team was set to work out DeMarcus Cousins this week. While the Lakers may not have anticipated a quarter of their team missing time, they did anticipate signing 10-day contracts as they did with Sterling Brown.
All of this depends on how long the Lakers expect to be without all four players. Reaves, Walker and AD all have return timelines that extend into next week, but Brown Jr. doesn’t have as much of a clear timeline. If the Lakers feel he’ll be out for the foreseeable future, it may be worth signing a 10-day contract to avoid being further shorthanded in the handful of games covering forward.