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Warriors granted the Disabled Player Exception

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We knew it was going to happen, but now it’s official.

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have been granted the Designated Player Exception (DPE) by the NBA, following Klay Thompson’s Achilles tear, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reports. This was always a formality, as there was no reason to think the Warriors wouldn’t be given the DPE, but at least now they know with 100% certainty that they can use the exception.

The DPE gives the over-the-tax Warriors the opportunity to spend some money that they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to spend, to offset the season-ending loss of Thompson. A team granted the DPE can spend the salary of the injured player or the non-taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (MLE), whichever is lowest. In the Warriors case, it’s the latter, which is $9.26 million. That number moves up to $9.36 million if the Warriors use the DPE to acquire a player in a trade.

It seems unlikely that Golden State will use the exception on a free agent, since the bulk of the quality players have already signed. If the Warriors sign anyone else, they can still use veteran’s minimums and what remains of their taxpayer MLE. But they can use the DPE later in the season if a player is bought out, or on a trade (though it has to be for an expiring contract). So it remains a tool for Bob Myers to use as he builds the roster throughout the year.

It’s worth noting that the Warriors knew they would be getting the DPE, it was just a matter of the league making it official. So the delay in having it officially handed out didn’t impact the Warriors’ ability to sign free agents, as they could have reached verbal agreements with anyone they wanted to use the DPE on.

A few other notes for anyone who might have questions about the DPE:

  • While the DPE allows the Warriors to spend some additional money, it doesn’t offer anything in terms of financial relief or roster relief. Thompson’s contract still counts against the Warriors cap, and he still takes up one of their 15 allocated roster spots.
  • The DPE is taxed the same as any other contract, so the Warriors will be hit with a lucrative tax payment if they decide to use it.
  • Being granted the DPE does not make it illegal for Thompson to return this season. There’s no medical precedent for him being physically able to return this season, but I suppose the possibility of the season having a suspension and delay again shouldn’t be ignored.
  • If the Warriors use the DPE on a buyout or a trade, they can add a player with a contract exceeding the amount of the DPE, as long as they’re deep enough into the season that the remaining money owed to the player is less than the DPE.
  • The Warriors don’t have to use the entire DPE, but they cannot split it up and use it on multiple players. They also cannot combine it with what remains of the MLE to sign a more expensive player.