Knicks president Donnie Walsh told reporters Saturday that the NBA has denied the team's application for a disabled player exception on Cuttino Mobley, who was forced to retire because of a potentially life-threatening heart condition after the Knicks acquired him from the Clippers in a November trade sending Zach Randolph to L.A.
The expection, worth about $4.5 million, would've allowed the Knicks to sign or trade for a player making that much or less during the offseason. It wouldn't have been a factor at the Feb. 19 trade deadline because the 45-day deadline after the player's medical retirement had passed.
Walsh told reporters at the team's shootarond in Indianapolis that the league ruling came down late Friday night. The reason given was that Mobley's enlarged heart was determined to be a pre-existing condition. That explains why so many people close to the situation have denied since Mobley retired in early December that he had a clause in his current contract exempting his team from liability due to the condition. If such a clause existed, rejecting the disabled player exception would've been a slam dunk. Evidently, it was.
The Knicks were in no hurry to push the league for a ruling, which is why it took so long. Walsh didn't intend to use the exception this season, but it could have provided additional cap flexibilty this summer. The Knicks' only recourse now is to waive Mobley or trade his contract if they want to open up a roster spot.