Ja Morant out: What’s next for the Grizzlies?

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will miss the remainder of the season due to labrum surgery, only 11 games after retaking the court from his lengthy punishment to open the campaign for his various indiscretions, in what will amount to a nothing season for the franchise’s 24-year-old cornerstone.

The difference with and without Morant was palpable. In games without Morant this season, the Grizzlies have posted a mere 6-20 record; with him, they won six of their 10 outings, with Ja being the game-deciding factor. The already flimsy argument that the Grizzlies might be better without Morant based on their anomalous record without him in the 2022/23 season was running on fumes. Now, though, yet another extended absence is upcoming.

The reasons why the 2023-24 and 2022-23 Ja-less Grizzlies are so different are myriad and not to be explored here. Injuries, certainly, are a big part of it. Nevertheless, there exists a salary cap vehicle precisely for such eventualities. Per the terms of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams with players who suffer season-ending injuries can apply for a Disabled Player Exception, a tool to help them plug the gap. And the usefulness of those is directly correlated to how much salary the hurt player is getting paid.

What is a Disabled Player Exception?

The Disabled Player Exception is a salary cap exception, not a roster exception. No extra roster spot is gained if it is granted. But what it does do is provide extra spending power to the team suffering the loss, which can be used between now and March 10 to potentially acquire a replacement player. If it is determined by a league-designated physician that the player – in this case, Morant – is not going to be able to return to the court this season, a discretionary Disabled Player Exception can be awarded to his team, to empower them to acquire a replacement.

As above, teams must apply for DPEs, which unlike other salary cap exceptions are not simply awarded. However, if awarded, DPEs can be for significant amounts. The amount of a Disabled Player Exception is for whichever is the lesser amount of half of the injured player’s salary, or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception that year. In both cases, $100,000 of wiggle room is also granted.

The Ja Morant case

Where things stand for Memphis

If the Grizzlies get it, will they use it?

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype