As we outline in our glossary entry on the disabled player exception, a team can apply for a DPE to replace a seriously injured player. In order for the exception to be granted, an NBA-designated physician must determine that the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year. If granted, the disabled player exception allows a club to sign a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, or for the amount of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.
In the case of the Suns and Arthur, it’s not clear what specific injury will keep the veteran big man sidelined for the entire season. However, he has been plagued by knee issues in recent years, including last season. The 30-year-old was traded from Denver to Brooklyn to Phoenix during the offseason.
Arthur is earning a salary of $7,464,912 in the final year of his contract, so if the Suns are granted a disabled player exception, it would be worth $3,732,456. Phoenix would have until March 10 to use the exception, which could be used to sign a free agent to a one-year deal or to trade for a player in the last year of his contract.
A disabled player exception doesn’t allow a team to carry an extra player — it just gives an over-the-cap club some extra spending flexibility. So the Suns would still be limited to 15 players on their regular season roster, plus two players on two-way contracts.