Caron Butler's season-ending knee surgery will not result in a disabled player exception for the Dallas Mavericks.
Teams who lose players due to a season-ending injury can typically apply for a disabled player exception that allows the team to acquire a player making 50 percent of the injured player's salary via trade or free agency without regard to cap restrictions (except those governing trades). The Portland Trail Blazers (Greg Oden) and Miami Heat (Udonis Haslem) each received disabled player exceptions this season.
But for that to occur, the injury must happen prior to Nov. 30. As Butler wasn't injured until Jan. 1, the Mavericks won't be eligible for the exception, meaning if the team is to replace the forward it will have to be done with the team's existing assests.
Butler makes $10 million this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that the Mavericks could trade him as an expiring contract as the February trade deadline approaches. It's unclear whether the Mavericks will be content to try Shawn Marion at small forward (where he played well last season) or if the franchise will look for a star-level replacement. Butler averaged 15 points a game for Mavericks this season. He was acquired in a deal with the Washington Wizards a year ago; that trade also brought Brendan Haywood, now a richly paid back-up center, to Dallas in exchange for Josh Howard.