How Teams Are Using 2021/22 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 2021/22, the bi-annual exception is worth $3,732,000, and can be used to offer a deal worth up to $7,650,600 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 $143,002,000 (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 2020/21, four teams used the BAE — the Nuggets (Facundo Campazzo), Lakers (Wesley Matthews), and Bucks (Bobby Portis) As such, the exception isn’t available to those clubs during the 2021/22 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 2021/22:


Available Bi-Annual Exceptions:

Unused:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Miami Heat
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

Although all of these teams technically have the ability to use their bi-annual exceptions at some point in 2021/22, it’s more realistic for some than others. For instance, the Trail Blazers still have most of their mid-level exception available and are only about $7MM below the tax apron, so there’s virtually no chance they’ll end up using the BAE this season.

Used:

  • Dallas Mavericks

Typically, about three or four teams in a given league year use the bi-annual exception, but so far this season, Dallas is the only team that has done so. The Mavericks have shown a willingness to make use of the BAE when it’s available — they got it back this season after using it in 2019 to sign Boban Marjanovic.


Unavailable Bi-Annual Exceptions:

Went under cap:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • New York Knicks
  • San Antonio Spurs

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

Over (or near) tax apron:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Utah Jazz

In theory, major cost-cutting moves by these teams could put them in position to use their bi-annual exceptions. In actuality though, that possibility is remote, especially for teams like the Nets, Warriors, and Clippers, who are far over the tax apron.

Used last year:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Milwaukee Bucks

As noted in the intro, these are the three teams that used their bi-annual exceptions in 2020/21 and, as a result, won’t have them again until 2022/23.


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

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