Disabled-player exceptions allow teams to sign, trade for or claim off waivers players on the last year of their contract. The mechanism is sometimes useful in helping a team.
But it’s often an overrated tool. It doesn’t open a roster spot. It doesn’t provide luxury-tax relief. Most DPEs go unused.
A real benefit of DPEs is the clarity they provide on injuries. Teams often obfuscate in their public messages. But to have a disabled-player exception granted, an NBA-appointed doctor must rule the injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15.
That brings us to the Magic.
Now, here’s a sign the forwards’ knee injuries could be even more significant than it sounded.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Orlando Magic have applied for two Disabled Player Exceptions — for Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu — with the NBA that would project season-ending losses, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 10, 2020
The deadline to apply for a disabled-player exception is Wednesday. So, maybe Orlando is just taking a stab before it’s too late. In the thick of the playoff race, the Magic could use the help. They have breathing room below the luxury-tax line and an open roster spot.
But if Isaac and Aminu are that severely injured, that’s a major blow.
Isaac looked like a rising star before going down. It really sounded like he could return later this season. He has already missed a lot of development time in his short career. This wouldn’t be an ideal way to enter his contract-extension window next offseason.
Aminu seemed less likely to return. He’s older, and his injury sounded worse. Even if he gets healthy before the season ends, there will be questions about bringing back the 29-year-old rather than giving him a full offseason to heal. Orlando owes him $9,720,900 next season and $10,183,800 the year after that.