If a player is seriously injured, his team can request a disabled player exception to replace him. 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. 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 Barea’s case, the exception would be modest — 50% of his $3,710,850 salary works out to just $1,855,425. Still, their request will likely be approved and the exception would provide Dallas with one more possible path to upgrading its roster in the second half.
Unlike mid-level, bi-annual, or trade exceptions, the disabled player exception can only be used on a single player. However, a team can use it in a variety of ways — the DPE can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. Because it’s designed to replace an injured player for a single season, a DPE can only be used to sign or acquire a player on a rest-of-season contract.
A disabled player exception doesn’t provide a team with an extra roster spot, so the Mavericks – who are carrying a full 15-man roster – would have to create an opening in order to use it.
The deadline for teams to apply for disabled player exceptions is January 15. The Wizards, who lost John Wall for the season, appear to be the only other team with a DPE request pending. The Suns applied for one for Darrell Arthur back in the fall, but waived him a few days later, rendering them ineligible for a DPE — their request seemed unlikely to be approved anyway.