The NBA has agreed to grant the Atlanta Hawks a $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception to compensate for the loss of All-Star center Al Horford, who has been declared out for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn right pectoral in late December. The news was reported this past Saturday by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Disabled Player Exception is set up under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to help teams recover from an unplanned loss, specifically in the form of a player who has suffered a season-ending injury. In these situations, a team must choose to apply for a DPE and, upon being approved, may sign a replacement player for either 50% of the injured player’s salary or the standard mid-level exception, whichever is less.
In Atlanta’s case, the team received a mid-level exception of $5,250,000. This gives the Hawks two options moving forward: sign a free-agent to a one-year deal worth up to $5,250,000, or acquire a player with an expiring contract (terminating at the end of the 2013-2014 season) worth no more than $5,250,000.
Under the regulations of the Disabled Player Exception, Atlanta has until February 20 to trade for a player with an expiring contract, or until March 10 to sign a free-agent outright for the remainder of the season. The Hawks could certainly use the help as they are clinging to 4th place in the Eastern Conference with only a five-game cushion over the 9th place team.
As it stands, the Hawks’ roster is currently at the league maximum of 15 players. The team must make a decision by this Saturday to either sign James Nunnally for the remainder of the season or let him walk and keep the roster at 14 players, leaving open the possibility of bringing in a free-agent or an expiring contract before the respective deadlines.
We will provide updates when more information becomes available.