A closer look at the Disabled Player Exception

Mike Lawrie

Almost a month after Al Horford went down, and 10 days after the final day to apply for, the Hawks have been granted a Disabled Player Exception. Let's see what we can do.

The NBA has finally granted that Disabled Player Exception the Hawks applied for after Al Horford tore his other pectoral muscle almost a month ago. What does this mean for the Hawks? Well first, let's establish the parameters for a Disabled Player Exception:

Disabled Player Exception, if you have a player get injured and is expected to be out an indefinite amount of time, a team can apply for an exception that is equal to the lesser of 50% injured player's salary or Non-Taxpayer Mid Level Exception. This exception can be used to acquire (sign or trade) a player whose contract ends at the end of the season. There is no set criteria for the league to grant this exception and it can only be applied for between July 1st and January 15th. This cannot be split, it can only be used to acquire one player and this does carry a caphold. The DPE expires on March 10th.

Half of Al's salary is $6,000,000 so a DPE for him is worth the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception + $100k (= $5,250,000 as reported). Now that we have the DPE, we no longer have any Cap Space. Oh well. However, we are able to do one of two things with our DPE:

  1. Sign one player to a one-year-deal worth up to $5,250,000.
  2. Acquire (i.e. trade for) one player with a contract that will expire at the end of the 2013-14 season and is less than $5,250,000.

The first scenario is pointless seeing as the free agents available won't command a deal worth up to $5,250,000. And even if they did command a high salary, then the Hawks have their Room Mid Level Exception available which is worth $2,652,000. The Hawks would have signed said free agent already, so let's move on to the more important scenario.

Atlanta can acquire a player with a contract that does not extend beyond the 2013-14 season and is less than $5,250,000 with the DPE. So, who might this list include? Well, you can take a look at all players who could have their contract expire at the end of this season at the new Basketball Insiders website. It is important to note that if a player has a Team or Player Option for the 14-15 Season, then they could be traded to the Hawks if said Team or Player Option is declined before (or during) the trade.

The important aspect with the DPE is that we can add ONE player whose salary this year is less than $5,250,000 and expires at the end of this season. We can trade away picks/players no problem in this exchange as we will not need an exception for that. Said other team may need an exception to acquire our players, which could conveniently be filled by their use of a Traded Player Exception (i.e. whoever they send out they can received up to 150% + $100k in return unless they are over the Luxury Tax or send more than $9.8m out).

For the ambitious ones that want to involve multiple players or teams, remember that we need an exception in order to take on any contracts that take us over the cap. In trades, this is the Traded Player Exception that is scaled by outgoing salaries. The DPE is another mechanism that can help us bring in more salary that the Traded Player Exception would not allow us.

Having the DPE does not imply that we will use it, but it is always nice to have options available.

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