The NBA's latest Collective Bargaining Agreement introduced a new kind of mid-level exception for teams who are paying the luxury tax. Rather than the four-year contract starting at $5MM (with 4.5% raises) available to non-taxpayers, teams over the tax line can offer a "mini" MLE of up to three years, starting at $3MM (4.5% raises).
Let's check in the status of those exceptions, and see which teams can still offer a pro-rated portion of that $3MM maximum to free agents:
- Spurs: Though waiving the retired Antonio McDyess reduced the Spurs' cap figure somewhat, the team still only has access to the mini mid-level exception rather than the full MLE. They could use it to attempt to sign a front-court player like Kenyon Martin, though it doesn't sound like they're overly interested in him. As close to the tax line as they are, it's possible San Antonio tries to get under it by season's end, rather than adding more salary. Here's the uninspiring list of current free agents the Spurs could be eyeing.
- Celtics: They used their mini MLE on December 9th, signing Chris Wilcox to a one-year deal worth $3MM.
- Heat: They used their full mini MLE on December 9th, signing Shane Battier to a three-year deal.
- Lakers: They used their mini MLE on December 14th, signing Josh McRoberts to a two-year deal. He'll receive $3MM this season and a 4.5% raise for 2012/13.
- Mavericks: They used their mini MLE on December 12th, signing Vince Carter to a three-year deal. While Carter will receive the max ($3MM) this season, his subsequent raises are just 3%, and years two and three are only partially guaranteed.