The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception to gain extra cap flexibility in the wake of Dion Waiters‘ ankle injury, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Today was the last day for teams to apply for disabled player exceptions for the 2017/18 season.
As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, a disabled player exception gives a team some additional spending flexibility in the event that an NBA-designated physician determines an injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year. Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his ankle, so if the league agrees with the Heat’s medical assessment, the team will receive a DPE.
The amount of that disabled player exception is either half of the injured player’s salary or the amount of the mid-level exception, whichever is smaller. In the Heat’s case, the DPE would be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ $11MM salary. If the Heat are granted that exception, it wouldn’t give them an extra roster spot, and the league wouldn’t reimburse the team at all if it uses the exception. Nonetheless, a DPE can be a useful tool for clubs that have already used their cap room and/or mid-level exceptions.
Assuming they receive a disabled player exception, the Heat could use it to sign a free agent to a one-year deal, or to trade for (or claim) a player with one year left on his contract. It can only be used once, so if the club uses it to sign a player to a $2.5MM deal, the remaining $3MM wouldn’t be available.
The Heat would have to use the exception by March 12, the first business day after the typical March 10 deadline. So if Miami doesn’t use the DPE to acquire a player at the trade deadline, it could still come in handy on the buyout market.
The Celtics also hold a disabled player exception worth about $8.4MM, while the Nets are expected to be granted one that would be worth $6MM.