How Teams Are Using 2020/21 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 2020/21, the bi-annual exception is worth $3,623,000, and can be used to offer a deal worth up to about $7,427,150 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 $138,928,000 (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 2019/20, four teams used the BAE — the Mavericks (Boban Marjanovic), Pistons (Markieff Morris), Grizzlies (Marko Guduric), and Raptors (Stanley Johnson) As such, the exception isn’t available to those clubs during the 2020/21 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 2020/21:

Available Bi-Annual Exceptions:


  • Boston Celtics
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Miami Heat
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Utah Jazz
  • Washington Wizards

Although all of these teams technically have the ability to use their bi-annual exceptions at some point in 2020/21, it’s more realistic for some than others. For instance, the Rockets are right up against a hard cap and still have nearly $7MM of their mid-level exception available, so there’s virtually no chance they’ll be using the BAE this season, even if they shed a little salary.


So far, the Nuggets, Lakers, and Bucks are the only teams that won’t have the bi-annual exception available to them during the 2021/22 league year after using it this season.

Unavailable Bi-Annual Exceptions:

Went under cap:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • New York Knicks

These three teams forfeited their right to the bi-annual exception when they went under the cap and used space this offseason.

Over tax apron:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Philadelphia 76ers

In theory, major cost-cutting moves by the Nets, Warriors, and Sixers could put them in position to use their bi-annual exceptions. In actuality though, that possibility is remote.

Used last year:

  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Toronto Raptors

As noted in the intro, these are the four teams that used their bi-annual exceptions in 2019/20 and won’t have them again until 2021/22 as a result.

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

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