How Teams Are Using 2018/19 Mid-Level Exceptions

In addition to receiving nearly $102MM in cap room and being allowed to surpass that threshold in order to sign players using Bird Rights or the minimum salary exception, each NBA team also receives a mid-level exception. The value of this exception varies depending on a club’s total team salary.

A team that goes under the cap to use its available cap room, for instance, receives only a modest form of the MLE known as the room exception. An over-the-cap team receives the full mid-level exception, unless that team is also over the tax line, in which case it gets a taxpayer version of the MLE that falls in between the full MLE and the room exception. We detailed the exact values of each form of mid-level exception earlier this offseason, but here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Room exception: Can be used for contracts up to two years, with a starting salary worth up to $4.449MM.
  • Taxpayer mid-level exception: Can be used for contracts up to three years, with a starting salary worth up to $5.337MM.
  • Full mid-level exception: Can be used for contracts up to four years, with a starting salary worth up to $8.641MM.

Now that a majority of the NBA’s teams have used up their cap space, it’s worth keeping an eye on which teams still have part or all of their mid-level exceptions available, which we’ll do in the space below. This list will be kept up to date throughout the 2018/19 league year.

Here’s where things currently stand:


Mid-Level Exception:

Boston Celtics

  • Available: $5,337,000 (taxpayer)
  • Used: $0

Charlotte Hornets

Cleveland Cavaliers

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

Golden State Warriors

Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers

Memphis Grizzlies

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks

Minnesota Timberwolves

New Orleans Pelicans

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Orlando Magic

Portland Trail Blazers

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

  • Available: $5,337,000 (taxpayer)
  • Used: $0

Utah Jazz

  • Available: $8,641,000
  • Used: $0

Washington Wizards


Room Exception:

Atlanta Hawks

  • Available: $99,000
  • Used: $4,350,000 (Alex Len)

Brooklyn Nets

  • Available: $0
  • Used: $4,449,000 (Ed Davis)

Chicago Bulls

  • Available: $4,449,000
  • Used: $0

Dallas Mavericks

  • Available: $4,449,000
  • Used: $0

Indiana Pacers

Los Angeles Lakers

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Available: $4,449,000
  • Used: $0

Phoenix Suns

Sacramento Kings

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

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10 thoughts on “How Teams Are Using 2018/19 Mid-Level Exceptions

  1. hopper15

    The Cavs have been paying the luxury tax the last 2 years. How do they have the non tax payers MLE?

      • hopper15

        They should still have only the Tax payers MLE. Now next offseason is a different story.

        • Luke Adams

          The type of MLE a team has available is dependent on its current-year team salary — previous seasons’ payrolls have no impact on that.

            • Luke Adams

              It really is! It’s possible the Cavs will still be limited to the taxpayer MLE if they re-sign Hood and/or make some other moves that increase their team salary, but for now they have access to the full MLE.

    • Luke Adams

      They didn’t need to use their MLE to re-sign Morris (Non-Bird rights would work), but I know Basketball Insiders does list that. I’ll double-check it.

    • Luke Adams

      Can now confirm that the Nuggets used part of the taxpayer MLE on Morris rather than using Non-Bird rights, though I’m still not sure why.

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