After ruling out Lonzo Ball for the 2023 season due to lingering knee injuries, the Chicago Bulls have applied for the Disabled Player Exception, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The NBA will now have a doctor or the league's Fitness to Play panel to determine whether Ball's injury is severe enoguh to grant this exception. If approved, the Bulls would get an exception worth approximately half of Ball's $20.4 million at $10.2 million.
There are some restrictions on how this exception can be used by the Bulls should they be granted it. The first is that they can only use it on one player and they can only be signed to a one-year deal or have on year left on their contract in a trade. So for those fans wondering why they waited until now to do something like this, that is why. There was no high level free agent on day one that would have taken a one-year deal with the Bulls.
While this could, in theory, help the Bulls front office improve this roster there comes the question of if the Bulls will use this exception at all. The 10.2 million would count agaisnt the Bulls luxury tax space. As of now, the Bulls are $8.1 million away from paying a tax bill for the second time in franchise history and that hasn't accounted for the $5.2 million qualifying offer that Ayo Dosunmu got as a restricted free agent.
Time will tell if the Bulls decide to use this exception and dip into the luxury tax to create a contending roster. For those curious, guys like Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley, Terrance Ross and Mo Bamba are players I would look for in free agency.
As for a trade there are a few options, some more likely than others. A good candidate would be Kyle Anderson or Rocye O'Neale for a 3-and-D big wing players that can play either the 3 or the 4. Less likely would be guys like Grant Williams and P.J. Washington would be hard to get considering their RFA status. These two also project to get longer term and high salaries than $10.2 million.
It will be a waiting game to see if the Bulls end up taking advantage of this potential exception from the league. I just hate to see it come from a guy who helped the Bulls look like an Eastern Conference contender for half a season. Hopefully Lonzo will be back in 2024 and playing the type of basketball they many fans have seen.