3) Let it expire.
Sometimes the best action is inaction. The Nets applied for the Disabled Player Exception to give the team another tool to use in its kit, but that doesn’t mean they have to use it. They’ve got until February 20th to use it for a trade, and March 10th to use in free agency, but there’s a good chance that they won’t use it at all.
If anything, it’s a luxury. Think of it as that Groupon you bought for $15 worth of Brookstone gear that expires in March. Are you going to have time to get out to Brookstone before then? Probably not. Is anything really worth buying at Brookstone for $15? Again, probably not. But if for some reason your friend wants to meet you near Borough Hall and you get there 30 minutes early, maybe you’ll spend some time looking at earmuffs that light up when you’re near your car keys. It’s there for you if you need it.
But that luxury comes with a significant penalty. The league still charges luxury tax payments for a team that uses the Disabled Player Exception, and the Nets are so far above the tax they’ll need to regulate their oxygen levels. No, really: the Nets are $30,234,396 above the tax level, according to ESPN.com. If you ascend a stack of 30,234,396 one-dollar bills, you’ll sit atop a highly unstable tower that stands over 10,000 feet tall. And that’s just the overages: if you add in the rest of the team’s salary and the penalty the luxury tax incurs, you’re talking about a stack of over $190 million. That would stand taller than two Mount Everests combined.
While that may make for a fun day trip (who doesn’t like climbing?), adding to it will cost the Nets something fierce. Say the Nets sign a player for the maximum allowed $5.15 million. That’ll push their team salary up to about $107 million and into the next luxury tax threshhold, costing the Nets nearly $25 million in additional luxury tax payments alone. Even a minimum-salary player — which the Nets wouldn’t need to use the exception to sign — would cost around $5 million when the dust settles. The Nets may claim championship aspirations, but with Brook Lopez out and Deron Williams balky, that’s a tough team to commit spending up to $30 million on a role player for.
So to go back to the original analogy, it’s like a Brookstone Groupon you can use to get a free $15 item, except you have to pay $70 to upgrade the plan on your phone to download the Groupon app, because you already used all your storage on Joe Johnson videos. Maybe there’s no need to find another deal after all.