A salary cap exception designed to give teams extra flexibility when a player suffers a major injury, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers or to acquire a player in a trade. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free-agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.
Miami’s new DPE has a value of $4.7M – half of Leonard’s $9.4M salary for 2020-21 – so any player signed or acquired with the exception can’t be earning more than that amount (plus $100K). The deadline to use it is April 19.
The Heat used their full mid-level exception during the offseason to sign Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless, but still have their $3.6M bi-annual exception, along with a $7.5M trade exception that expires on March 22, so they have a few options available if they want to target a player in free agency or on the trade market.
Miami does, however, currently have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, and none of those exceptions – including the DPE – allow the team to add an extra player to its 15-man roster. So in order to use any of their exceptions, the Heat will have to trade or release one of their current players.