clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Pacers can use the disabled player exception after Paul George's injury

Paul George likely won't be able to play during the 2014-15 season, which means the Indiana Pacers will have a disabled player exception available to fill in for the All-Star. But will they use it?

Kevin C. Cox

Paul George suffered a broken leg when he went crashing into the stanchion at the Team USA scrimmage on Friday, and though his surgery reportedly was successful, it's expected he'll miss the entire 2014-15 season. It's a painful blow for the rising star and team USA, but in a few months the injury will begin impacting the Indiana Pacers on the court.

Obviously, there's no replacing George but Indiana does have a few options by way of the disabled player exception.

By rule, teams can replace a disabled player by being given a salary that is 50 percent of the injured player's salary or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is less. George's five-year contract kicks in this year at $15.9 million, meaning the Pacers will be given the latter.

Pending a league physical on George to confirm he will be out for the season, the Pacers will have the mid-level exception value of $5.305 million to spend on one free agent -- or a player claimed off waivers -- for one season. That, or Indiana can make a trade and acquire a player whose salary is the mid-level exception plus $100,000. In a trade, the incoming player would also have to be in the final year of his contract.

The odd and seemingly unnecessary quirk in the disabled player exception is that any player added on the rule is added to the team's total on top of George's salary. The problem in signing a player without shipping away salary is that Indiana, with total salaries at $74.8 million, is already well over the salary cap and about $2 million away from the luxury tax threshold of $76.8 million, according to ShamSports.

Indiana could use the full $5.305 million but would then be paying taxes.

If the Pacers need bodies, it's likely they'll go after a perimeter player who will command something that will keep them under the luxury tax. Shams Charania of RealGM reports that MarShon Brooks and Gary Forbes could be on Indiana's short-list, while less-substantiated rumors have named Shawn Marion as a target, most likely because he's one of the few known small forwards who haven't signed.

All that said, Indiana can stand pat and roll with its current options. Veteran small forward C.J. Miles signed this summer and one of last year's free agency signings, Chris Copeland, could be an offensive weapon without the ball. The Pacers could also turn to European combo forward Damjan Rudez, who also signed this offseason, or the team's 2013 first-round draft pick, second-year swingman Solomon Hill.

The disabled player exception in this case won't give the Pacers too many options, but should Indiana see it giving them a few more wins that are worth sacrificing internal development, they have it in their back pocket.


Get news, links and Ziller's #hottakes in your inbox every weekday morning.