The Wizards have applied for the Disabled Player Exception for John Wall, according to The Athletic's Sam Vecine.
Wall underwent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon on January 8, 2019.
At the NBA Awards, he told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller that he expected to begin jogging in two weeks, but the recovery timeline for a ruptured Achilles could hold Wall out all of next season.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis insisted in May that no one would rush Wall back onto the court, whether that would cost him a whole NBA season or not.
That in mind, here's what fans need to know about the DPE and what it means for the Wizards:
What is the Disabled Player Exception?
Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ defines the DPE as follows:
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 (see question number 62) that the player is substantially more likely than not to be unable to play through the following June 15.
A few additional items to note: The DPE grants a team the right to sign a replacement player, not a chunk of money for salary cap relief. Additionally, the disabled player is allowed to return to play if ready earlier than expected, which will not impact the replacement player's status and salary with the team.
What are the rules to apply for the DPE?
Also from Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ:
Teams can apply for this exception from July 1 through January 15, and cannot apply after January 15. Once granted, the exception expires when a player is acquired, when the disabled player is traded or returns to the team, or on March 10 of that season, whichever comes first. This exception is granted on a season-by-season basis -- if the player will also be out the following season, the team needs to apply for this exception again the following season.
The Wizards applied for the DPE when they lost Wall to injury last season, then applied again for this coming year.
How much money would the Wizards get if granted the DPE?
The Wizards would recoup the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, a little over $9 million, to spend on a player for next season only.
What would this mean for the Wizards roster next season?
For a team maneuvering under a tight salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal signed to supermax and max contracts, respectively, the replacement player could provide some breathing room elsewhere.
The major takeaway from this move comes from the DPE definition itself.
Essentially, the Wizards would not have applied for the exception unless they believed an NBA-designated physician or Fitness to Play panel would conclude that Wall is "substantially" unlikely to play until at least next June 15.
That's not inconsistent with the Wizards' patient approach to his rehab, but it's important to note that receiving a DPE won't prevent Wall from coming back next season if he's healthy enough.
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