Jeremy Lin is out for the season and facing a long and difficult rehabilitation. Now, the Nets have to look at options for replacing him ... or moving things around using the Diasabled Player Exception or a trade.
In talking to the media prior to Friday night’s win over Orlando, Sean Marks was typically vague but did not dismiss the possibility of using the DPE.
We're looking at all kinds of options," said Marks. "That's one tool that we potentially have and I think it's about being strategic and systematic in our approach not only in how we deal with this injury and these unforeseen circumstances, but as the season unfolds, we'll see how things go.”
The DPE would give the Nets under certain circumstances an additional $6 million in cap space — half Lin’s salary this season. But there are limits to how the Nets can use the cap space.
First things first: The Nets will have to apply to the league for the DPE prior to January 15 ... three weeks before the February 8 trade deadline. Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league’s Fitness to Play panel or an NBA-approved physician must certify that Lin is substantially more likely than not to be out through June 15. That is basically a given.
Once the Nets get the DPE, they do not have to use it immediately. They will have until March 10. That’s where it starts getting complicated.
Yes, the Nets could use the DPE to sign a player, to claim a player off waivers or to help make or facilitate a trade. But there are restrictions.
—The Nets mush have an open roster spot, which of course at this point, they do not. The DPE does not afford roster relief.
—The DPE can be used on just one player. No splitting it. No combining it with another exception or another player’s salary or cap space to take in anything more than $6 million.
—If used in a trade, there are limits on the DPE’s trade value. Trade rules allow a team to acquire the value of the exception, plus $100,000. So, for the purposes of a trade, the DPE can be valued at no more than $6.1 million.
—Perhaps most importantly, any player acquired, under any circumstance, must be either a free agent or on an expiring deal. If used on a free agent, the player must sign only a one year contract. If used to trade for a player or claim a player on waivers, that player must be on an expiring contract. And that means no player option, no team option beyond this season.
There are a few other criteria to keep in mind. The first is that it must be used by March 10th. If it goes unused, it will expire. Second is that the DPE does not pro-rate, unlike other exceptions. It remains at the full amount, no matter when it is used.
Would the Nets use the DPE to bring in another point guard? After Friday night, it would appear that the team’s needs are more up front than in the backcourt. Spencer Dinwiddie did a masterful job filling in and D’Angelo Russell looks like he will fit into the 1 very nicely.
What about bigs? Are there any that would fit into all the restrictions? Sure, both Alex Len and Nerlens Noel decided to take the qualifying offer this summer and their salaries are less than $6.1 million. Their deals are also for one year, BUT they must approve any deal and what would the incentive be for the Suns or the Mavericks to deal them away? And for what?
What’s our bet? The Nets apply and get the exception, but hold on to it until the trade deadline of February 8. No need to use it now. As Marks and Kenny Atkinson (and Lin for that matter) have said, the Nets are much better prepared to handle the loss of a backcourt player this year than last. The addition of Russell, Allan Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll plus the development of Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert ensures that.
So for the time being, best to put this story in your favorites or drop box until it’s needed. In Marks We Trust.