The NBA has granted the Chicago Bulls a $10.2 million disabled player exception for the projected season-ending loss of Lonzo Ball, a team spokesperson confirmed.
The exception, if it’s used, allows the Bulls to sign a player to a one-year deal for up to that amount, or trade for, or claim a player making that amount or less who is in the last season of his deal.
If the Bulls used the full amount of the exception, they would project to enter the luxury tax, a penalty they have paid only once in franchise history.
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As it stands, the Bulls sit roughly $8 million below the luxury tax threshold of $165.4 million with three roster spots remaining to fill. The Bulls have a $5.2 million qualifying offer on Ayo Dosunmu, making him a restricted free agent.
One roster-building path would be to re-sign Dosunmu at his qualifying offer---or lower on a long-term deal---and fill the last two spots with veteran minimum exceptions. This would likely keep the Bulls under the luxury tax.
However, the disabled player exception gives management flexibility and creativity should they have larger designs. The Bulls, however, do face a hard cap of $172.4 million that they cannot exceed.
Last month, executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said the team isn’t expecting Ball to return this season. The versatile point guard, such a crucial piece to the team’s style of play, hasn’t played since January 2022 and has undergone three surgeries on his left knee since then.
The latest surgery involved a cartilage transplant, widely considered a last-ditch effort to save Ball’s career.