May 26, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird watches the game against the Miami Heat in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pacer to Apply for Disabled Player Exception

Since Paul George is expected to be out for the entire upcoming season, the Pacers are eligible for the “disabled player exception”(DPE) to the NBA salary cap. This means that, even though the team is over the salary cap, it will be permitted to sign a free agent to a one-year deal for up to $5.3 million. (They could also use the exception to trade for a player on the final year of his deal who will $5.4 million or less this year.)

As expected, the Pacers are going to fill out the paperwork to apply for this DPE, according to David Aldridge of

But don’t get your hopes up, Pacers fans.

This really means nothing.

The application process is a formality; it is not a sign of an imminent signing. There are several reasons why Indiana is unlikely to use the DPE, the largest being that the team’s payroll is only about $1.6 million away from exceeding the luxury tax threshold — a line the team certainly will not cross at this point.

I ran down all the reasons why the team probably won’t ever use the exception, but that’s all you need to know really.

If the Pacers waive Luis Scola in the near future, they could turn that $1.6 million cushion to a little more than $4 million or breathing room. It was speculated that they may do just this in an attempt to sign Shawn Marion. They did meet with Marion, according to reports.

But the word now is that Marion is leaning towards signing with LeBron’s Cavaliers in Cleveland, which would give him a legit shot at a ring. That of course makes a lot more sense than Indiana waiving a player (who they would still have to pay $1.9 million) just to shell out another salary around $4 million to Marion — all while likely remaining far from contention and maybe even out the playoff race.

So, yeah.

All the reasons that Indiana was unlikely to use the DPE remain.

This news is probably just the front office being prudent and filing some paperwork to keep its options open. After all, the team has until March 10 to use the DPE, and anything can happen.

Maybe Indiana makes a trade later in the year that sheds some salary off their payroll, and then they have more space to trade the exception to a team that wants to save a few million in exchange for an guy with a bit of potential. Or they could use the exception to pick up someone on the waiver wire (perhaps during “buyout season”).

Ultimately, there is no downside to having this exception in their back pocket. Fiscal realities mean they are unlikely to use it anytime soon to sign a difference maker, but under the current CBA, flexibility is one of the best assets a front office can have.

So all options are good options.

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