Everything you need to know about Detroit Pistons’ new Disabled Player Exception

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Twitter notifications always get the heart racing this time of year. With the NBA Trade Deadline days away, you never know what you’re going to get. But earlier today, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reported that the Detroit Pistons have been granted a $5.276 million disabled player exception for the season-long loss of Cade Cunningham.

While this may not be the news the fans are waiting for, it certainly opens up some more intriguing options for the Pistons.

What is a Disabled Player Exception (DPE)?

When a team loses a player to injury who will likely not be available before June 15, it can apply for a DPE by Jan. 15. If granted, the value of the DPE is 50% of the injured player’s salary or the Non-taxpayer Mid-level Exception, whichever is lower; this year, the Non-taxpayer Mid-level Exception is $10.49 million, thus the Pistons received 50% of Cade’s salary. The exception must be used by March 10 or it expires.

How can it be used?

The DPE can be used in a variety of ways, but also has some fairly restrictive limitations. Using the DPE, the Pistons can trade, claim from waivers, or sign a player whose salary fits within the exception. If they sign a free agent, he can only be signed through the end of the current season. If they claim a player off waivers, he must be in the final year of his contract.

In a trade scenario, the DPE works similar to a Traded Player exception (TPE) in that the Pistons can take back salary equal to the DPE plus $100,000 without sending out any additional salary. In this case, the Pistons can acquire $5.376 million in salary. However, unlike the TPE, the Pistons can only use the DPE to acquire one player rather than being able to aggregate it across multiple contracts. Finally, any player traded for must also be in the last year of his contract.

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What will the Pistons do with it?

Before the Pistons can do anything with this exception, they must create an open roster spot, Noel being the most likely candidate (he fits nicely into the Clippers TPE, just saying). Once that happens, things can get interesting, especially on the trade market.

One of the more plausible scenarios is for the Pistons to take on some salary from a team looking to duck the luxury tax. For example, the Sixers could ship Thybulle for a Detroit second-round pick. Other noteworthy players include Torrey Craig (Pistons could use a defensive wing), Justise Winslow, and Grant Williams (if you believe in miracles). If you, like me, were hoping for an Andre Drummond reunion, sadly, despite his salary fitting, he still has a player option for next year and therefore does not qualify.

While it likely won’t result in anything major for the Pistons, the Disabled Player exception could certainly add some spice to what has been a boring trade season so far, and maybe give fans a new toy to get excited about, at least through the end of the season.

Which player do you hope the Pistons target with the DPE?

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