A disabled player exception can be granted when an NBA team has a player go down with an injury deemed to be season-ending. The exception gives the club some additional spending flexibility, functioning almost as a cross between a traded player exception and a mid-level exception.
We go into more detail on who qualifies for disabled player exceptions and how exactly they work in our glossary entry on the subject. But essentially, a DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.
Because the rules related to disable player exceptions are somewhat restrictive and the exceptions themselves often aren’t worth a lot, they often simply expire without being used. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on which disabled player exceptions have been granted, just in case.
We’ll use this space to break down the teams with DPEs available for the 2019/20 league year, updating it as the season progresses. Teams have until January 15 to apply for a disabled player exception and until March 10 to actually use them.
Teams that have been granted disabled player exceptions:
- New Orleans Pelicans: $3,625,000 (Darius Miller) (story)
- Los Angeles Lakers: $1,750,000 (DeMarcus Cousins) (story)
The Pelicans and Lakers have full 15-man rosters for the time being, so each club would have to open up a roster spot in order to use its disabled player exception.
Although their exception is more modest, the Lakers are probably more likely than New Orleans to use their DPE, since they’re the more viable title contender — there wouldn’t be much reason for the Pelicans to spend more on their roster if they’re headed for the lottery.
Even a $1.75MM exception could come in handy for the Lakers in February on the buyout market, when the prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum will be worth less than that.
Teams ineligible for disabled player exceptions:
The Wizards applied for a disabled player exception for Wall during the first week of the 2019/20 league year. Word that the NBA had denied that request didn’t surface until October, but the league’s decision makes sense. After all, Wall underwent Achilles surgery all the way back in February.
In order for a DPE to be approved, the injured player must be considered substantially more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15 of that league year. Recovery from Achilles surgery is generally viewed as an 11-15 month process, whereas June 15 would’ve been more than 16 months since Wall underwent that procedure.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.