How Teams Are Using 2018/19 Bi-Annual Exceptions

The bi-annual exception is one of the tools available to NBA teams who are over the cap, giving those clubs the flexibility to offer free agents more than the minimum salary. In 2018/19, the bi-annual exception is worth $3.382MM, and can be used to offer a deal worth up to about $6.933MM over two years.

However, the bi-annual exception isn’t available to every team. Clubs that go below the cap in order to use cap room lose access to the exception. Additionally, using the BAE imposes a hard cap of $129.817MM (the tax apron) on a club. So if a team has surpassed the tax apron – or wants to retain the flexibility to do so – that team can’t use the bi-annual exception.

Finally, as its name suggests, the bi-annual exception can’t be used by a team in consecutive years. In 2017/18, three teams used the BAE — the Grizzlies (Tyreke Evans), the Rockets (Tarik Black), and the Pistons (Anthony Tolliver). As such, the exception isn’t available to those clubs during the 2018/19 league year. They’ll be able to use it again next summer.

With all those factors in mind, here’s a breakdown of how teams are using – or not using – their respective bi-annual exceptions in 2018/19:

BAE Still Available:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Orlando Magic
  • Utah Jazz

Unless a taxpaying team drastically cuts costs at some point, the seven clubs listed above are the only ones that could still use their bi-annual exception at some point during the 2018/19 season.

Four these seven teams – the Hornets, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Knicks – have already hard-capped themselves by using more than the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception, so they could theoretically use their BAEs without worrying about further restrictions. The Cavaliers, Magic, and Jazz may be more reluctant to use theirs, particularly since they all have significant portions of the MLE still available.

BAE Unavailable:


  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • San Antonio Spurs

Went under cap:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Sacramento Kings

Over or near tax apron:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Denver Nuggets
    • Note: The Nuggets have shed salary since being over the tax apron, but they’re ineligible to use the BAE because they used a portion of their taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Miami Heat
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

Used last year:

  • Detroit Pistons
  • Houston Rockets
  • Memphis Grizzlies

Salary information from Bobby Marks of ESPN and Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

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