Teams Facing Disabled Player Exception Deadline

January 14 2013 at 6:13pm CST By Chuck Myron

Plenty of teams have had to endure injuries to star players this season, as Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love, John Wall, Eric Gordon and others have all missed significant time. Still, for a team to get any monetary relief from the NBA, a player must be out for the entire season. The league grants the disabled player exception to teams who'll be without a member of their roster for the entire season, and Tuesday is the last day for teams to apply for it.

As Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors spelled out when he looked at this exception, it gives the team an amount equal to half the injured player's salary that it can use to sign a replacement to a contract for the rest of that season. Teams can also use that amount, plus $100K, to bring in a replacement via trade, as long as the incoming player is in the final year of his deal.

The exception doesn't automatically show up in a team's ledger when a player goes down. Clubs must submit an application to the league, which considers whether to fulfill requests on a case-by-case basis. Ostensibly, this is to prevent teams from trying to replace players who might come back at some point later in the season. But, if the injured player surprises and makes it back before the end of the year, the team suffers no penalty.

We heard earlier today that the Lakers are exploring the idea of applying for the exception to replace Jordan Hill, who was ruled out for the season on Friday. Over the weekend, the Timberwolves made official news that's been expected since last month, announcing on their website that Malcolm Lee is done for the year. Yet for all the players suffering injuries this season, only a handful of players appear to be definitely out for the season. We'll round them up here, with amount the exception would be worth in parentheses.

  • Channing Frye, Suns ($3MM): There's no real need for Phoenix to pursue the exception, since they're already more than $3MM under the salary cap. 
  • Brandon Rush, Warriors ($2MM): The W's might be hesitant to add salary this season, since they're already a taxpaying team, and they're about $3MM below their hard cap, which the disabled player exception would not excuse them from.  
  • Malcolm Lee, Timberwolves ($381,098): The amount of this exception would be tiny, so it would be of little use in signings, but it could allow the Wolves a little bit of flexibility in trades.
  • Jordan Hill, Lakers ($1,781,800): Luke Adams looked at the Lakers' case earlier today, noting that the Lakers already have more than $1.5MM available as part of their mid-level exception, so it seems unlikely they'd need the DPE.
  • Elliot Williams, Trail Blazers ($721,440): The Blazers have already obtained the exception for Williams, though they have yet to use it.

Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ and ShamSports were used in the creation of this post.

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