What Does a Disabled Player Exception Mean in the NBA?

What a Disabled Player Exception means for the Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards applied for the NBA's "Disabled Player Exception" following the season-ending injury to Thomas Bryant, who tore his ACL in Washington's loss to Miami.

If approved, Washington would get $4.2 million to sign a replacement player. Still, it's not a sure thing that the Wizards would be granted such an exception. In October 2019, Washington was denied an exception for up to $9.2 million to replace an injured John Wall because an independent doctor believed he'd be able to play before June 15, 2020. 

While the end of last season saw Wall focus on completing his rehabilitation as opposed to rushing it back to play for the Wizards one more time in the bubble, the current Rockets point guard never did play before June 15. In Bryant's case, however, it's more clear his torn ACL will require at least the rest of the season to recover from. 

RELATED: 5 free agent centers the Wizards could target following Thomas Bryant's injury

But where does the NBA get that $4.2 million number come from, you ask? 

Well first, it's important to understand what the Disabled Player Exception even is. 

What is the Disable Player Exception (DPE)?

According to Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ, the DPE can be defined as: 

"This exception allows a team which is over the cap to replace a disabled player who will be out for the remainder of that season (it can also be granted in the event of a player's death). This exception is granted by the league, based on an application from the team and a determination by an NBA-designated physician or Fitness to Play panel that the player is substantially more likely than not to be unable to play through the following June 15."

Coon adds an important few notes as well. First, this $4.2 million exception would have to go toward sigining a replacement player, not salary cap relief.

If granted, the Wizards would be able to acquire a replacement for Bryant by one of three ways: through free agency, picking a player up off waivers or via trade. In both the latter two options, Washington could only sign a player in the last year of their contract. 

The $4.2 million dollar number comes from teams being able to sign a replacement "for 50% of the disabled player's salary or the amount of the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, whichever is less," according to Coon. Bryant's base salary this season is $8.3 million. 

The injured player must also be on the Wizards roster from the time they apply for the exception to the time they are potentially granted such an exception. Granted the fact head coach Scott Brooks had told free agent centers that Bryant was the starter just this past offseason, Bryant isn't expected to go anywhere. 

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