A salary cap exception designed to give teams extra flexibility when a player suffers a major injury, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. However, it can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.
The DPE is worth half the injured player’s salary if that amount is less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Lewis is earning a relatively modest $3,822,240 salary this season, so the Pelicans’ new DPE is worth just $1,911,120, which will limit the team’s options.
A disabled player exception also doesn’t create an extra roster spot, so if New Orleans wants to make use of its DPE, it will need to have an open spot on its standard roster.
Meanwhile, the Bulls – who applied for a disabled player exception in response to Patrick Williams‘ left wrist injury – have had their request denied, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
In order for a team to be approved for a DPE, its injured player must be deemed by a league-approved physician to be “more likely than not” to be out through at least June 15.
In Williams’ case, the Bulls announced a four-to-six month recovery timeline when the forward underwent wrist surgery in October, and reports have indicated he could be back during the postseason. In other words, he’s not considered likely to remain sidelined through June 15, which is presumably why Chicago’s request wasn’t granted.
If it had been approved, the Bulls’ DPE would have been worth $3,711,000.