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How John Wall’s Disabled Player Exception helps the Wizards

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the value of the Disabled Player Exception the NBA granted for John Wall’s season-ending injury, which is...


Earlier this week, the NBA approved the Wizards’ application for a Disabled Player Exception after John Wall’s season-ending heel surgery. Washington can use the exception to sign a player for the rest of the season, claim a player off waivers in the final year of their deal, or trade for a player in the final year of their contract.

Disabled Player Exceptions are more common than you think. The league also granted exceptions to Mavericks and Grizzlies this season after J.J. Barea and Dillon Brooks went down with season-ending injuries. Seven teams got exceptions last season, including the Celtics who used their exception from the Gordon Hayward injury to sign Greg Monroe.

Back in the 2015-16 season, the Wizards got an exception after Martell Webster had to undergo season-ending hip surgery. They didn’t use it that year and it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t again here. Anyone they sign with the exception counts on the team payroll and as part of the team’s luxury tax payments.

There are ways it could still come into play this season, especially around the trade deadline. The exception allows them to construct a simultaneous that would allow them to circumvent the salary matching rules in trades. Let’s say for the sake of making a hypothetical work that the Wizards wanted to trade Markieff Morris to Oklahoma City for Alex Abrines’ expiring contract. Trading them straight up wouldn’t work under the CBA, but if the Wizards used their Disabled Player Exception to get Abrines, the Thunder could use their trade exception from the Carmelo Anthony trade to get Morris and it would be a legal trade. The Wizards did something similar in 2015 to make the Andre Miller-Ramon Sessions trade work.

There’s also an off chance Washington could leverage the exception on the buyout market. With that exception in hand, they could offer veterans a bigger payday than other teams who can only offer the minimum. Again, it would all depend on Washington’s tolerance for extra luxury tax payments, but it’s on the table.

No exception will replace John Wall’s on-court value, and at this point of the season, it may be difficult to get value regardless of how it‘s used. But if nothing else, it always helps to have extra options at your disposal.