League sources confirm the Cleveland Cavaliers have been granted an $8.9 million disabled player exception due to Ricky Rubio’s season-ending ACL tear. Rubio suffered the injury during Cleveland’s 108-104 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in December. News of the exception was first reported by The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo.
With the exception now in play, the Cavaliers are now able to freely trade Rubio’s expiring contract in order to upgrade their roster. It’s been reported that Cleveland is using that, along with their arsenal draft picks, in order to grab wing talent to relieve some of the defensive pressure Darius Garland is facing.
The Cavaliers can also use the exception, even after trading Rubio, and also acquire another player to soften the blow from losing him for the season. If it’s in a trade, said player has to be making $8.9 million or less. The player acquired from the trade also has to be on the last year of their contract as well. If it’s through a signing, $8.9 million is the maximum amount said player can be signed for.
But, the most important thing of all to note is that exception expires if Rubio is traded or waived before it’s used. So, that means the Cavaliers have to carefully use the exception in a deal and then are free to use Rubio’s expiring contract in a separate transaction.
With two weeks to go until the annual trade deadline, this will be an ongoing situation worth monitoring for Cleveland. They already have blossomed this season with what the front office has already assembled. Now it depends on whether or not the organization wants to go all-in on this season.