Editor's Note: A league source said Thursday morning the Blazers would pursue a disabled player exception in the aftermath of Greg Oden's microfracture surgery decision. -- Ben
Original Post by Salary Cap Guru Storyteller:
I posted last night that I would be praying for Greg Oden and wait a day or two to discuss how his impending surgery affects the Blazers. This post is my first attempt to begin that process, and will focus on the possibility of the Blazers getting and using a disabled player exception. I've seen some posts online discussing this option and heard discussion on sports radio as well. So, after the jump, I'll take a look at what a disabled player exception is, whether the Blazers are eligible to receive one, and how such an exception might be used.
A quick reminder - if a team is over the salary cap after making a player transaction (signing a player or trading for a player), the transaction is only allowable if they use one of the exceptions available to teams over the cap. These exceptions are described in Article VII of the CBA, for those who are ambitious enough to read the descriptions for themselves. A disabled player exception is only given to a team who loses a player for an extended period of time so that the team can obtain a replacement player. The parameters of obtaining and using a disabled player exception are outlined in Section 6(c) of Article VII, and are essentially as follows:
1) Determination of whether the injury qualifies for an exception is made by a physician designated by the NBA (unless there is an appeal as described in #4 below).
2) If the injury occurs between July 1 and November 30, the physician determines whether or not the player will be unable to play (due to injury or death) during the current season. If so, an exception can be offered.
3) If the injury occurs between December 1 and June 30, the physician determines whether or not the player will be unable to play (due to injury or death) not only during the current season but also the entire next season. If so, an exception can be offered.
4) If the Player's Association disputes the ruling of the NBA-designated physician, a pre-determined 'neutral' physician will be used to either support or overturn the ruling of the earlier physician
5) The amount of the disabled player exception is the lesser of these two figures: 50% of the player's current salary or 108% of the previous season's average player salary (note: this second amount is also the amount of the MLE)
6) If a team is denied their application for a disabled player exception, they must wait at least 90 days before making another request for the same player. At that time, they must demonstrate either a new injury or an aggravation of the previous injury.
7) The only team that can be awarded a disabled player exception is the team for which the player was under contract with at the time of the injury.
8) A disabled player exception can be used to obtain one player either by signing a free agent (for up to the amount of the exception) or in trade (for a player making up to the amount of the exception + $100,000). The exception must be used within 45 days of the date it is granted if the disability occurred between July 1 and November 30. If the disability occurred between December 1 and June 30, then the team has until October 1 to use the exception.
9) A disabled player exception does not create an extra roster spot, it only provides the means for a team over the cap to fill a roster spot.
10) If the disabled player recovers and is able to play, he is eligible to play. If an exception was given and used prior to his return to play, the replacement player remains under contract. If an exception was given and not used, it is voided once the player returns to action.
11) A free agent signed with the disabled player exception can be given a contract up to 5 years in length. Yearly raises are limited to 8% of the first year salary amount.
Now onto the specifics regarding Greg Oden. I assume that the team will apply for a disabled player exception. If granted, the amount of the exception would be $3,380,262 and they would have 45 days to use it. The league in the past has been pretty good about granting such exceptions to teams who have disabled players. For example, last year the Rockets received a disabled player exception when it was determined that Yao Ming would be lost for the year and they used it to sign Trevor Ariza. However, there have been times when the league did not grant such an exception - such as in early 2009 when the Knicks requested such an exception to replace Cuttino Mobley, who was ruled to have a 'pre-existing condition'. I see no reason, however, why the league would not grant an exception to the Blazers in this case.
If the Blazers wanted to use the exception to sign a free agent, they would have to waive a player (probably Sean Marks?) to create a roster spot since the team already has the maximum 15 players on the roster. If the Blazers wanted to use the exception in a trade, then they would have to either waive a player to create a roster spot or expand the trade so as to send out at least as many players as are received back.
So, what practical options would be available to the Blazers if they received a disabled player exception? I can think of a couple, although there would be many:
A) Portland could use the exception to sign a larger-than-minimum-salary free agent, presumably a big man. Someone like Erick Dampier would be an option. I'm not a big fan of Dampier, but .....
B) Portland could use the exception to make an uneven (money wise) trade. For example, sending Sean Marks and the New Orleans 1st round pick received in the Bayless deal to Philadelphia for Spencer Hawes.
C) Portland could use the exception to facilitate a trade to aid a team that is over the luxury tax threshold. For example, sending a 2nd round pick to Denver for Renaldo Balkman and a 1st round pick (first waiving a player to create a roster spot).
I'm sure that there will be many different and excellent proposals as to how such an exception could be used by the Blazers posted here at the BEdge. Feel free to speculate! Also, please let me know if I've left something out of this post or if you have questions.