Values Of 2021/22 Mid-Level, Bi-Annual Exceptions

The salary cap for the 2021/22 NBA league year has officially been set, with the league announcing that the cap will be $112,414,000, a 3% increase on last year’s number.

Under the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the values of the mid-level, room, and bi-annual exceptions are tied to the percentage that the salary cap shifts in a given year. Because the cap figure for 2021/22 increased by 3%, the values of the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions will increase by the same amount.

Listed below are the maximum annual and total values of each of these exceptions, along with a brief explanation of how they work and which teams will have access to them.

Mid-Level Exception (Non-Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2021/22 $9,536,000
2022/23 $10,012,800
2023/24 $10,489,600
2024/25 $10,966,400
Total $41,004,800

The non-taxpayer mid-level exception is the primary tool available for over-the-cap teams to add free agents. As long as a team hasn’t dipped below the cap to use cap space and doesn’t go over the tax apron ($143MM) at all, it can use this MLE, which runs for up to four years with 5% annual raises.

Mid-Level Exception (Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2021/22 $5,890,000
2022/23 $6,184,500
2023/24 $6,479,000
Total $18,553,500

If an over-the-cap team currently projects to be a taxpayer or expects to move into tax territory later in the 2021/22 season, it will have access to this smaller mid-level exception for taxpaying teams.

If a team uses more than $5,890,000 of its mid-level exception, it is forbidden from surpassing the tax apron at any time during the league year. So even if a team isn’t above the apron when it uses its MLE, it might make sense to play it safe by avoiding using the full MLE and imposing a hard cap.

The taxpayer MLE can be used to sign a player for up to three years, with 5% annual raises.

Room Exception:

Year Salary
2021/22 $4,910,000
2022/23 $5,155,500
Total $10,065,500

Although this is also a mid-level exception of sorts, it’s colloquially known as the “room” exception, since it’s only available to teams that go below the cap and use their cap room.

If a club goes under the cap, it loses its full mid-level exception, but gets this smaller room exception, which allows the team to go over the cap to sign a player once the team has used up all its cap space. It can be used to sign players for up to two years, with a 5% raise for the second season.

Bi-Annual Exception:

Year Salary
2021/22 $3,732,000
2022/23 $3,918,600
Total $7,650,600

The bi-annual exception, as its name suggests, is only available to teams once every two years. Of the NBA’s 30 clubs, only three – the Nuggets, Lakers, and Bucksused it in 2020/21, so they won’t have access to it in 2021/22. The league’s other 27 teams could theoretically use it this season.

Still, even if a team didn’t use its BAE in ’20/21, that club doesn’t necessarily have access to it for the coming year. As is the case with the non-taxpayer MLE, this exception disappears once a team goes under the cap. It’s also not available to teams over the tax apron — using the BAE creates a hard cap at the apron.

The BAE can be used to sign players for up to two years, with a 5% raise after year one.

Note: Be sure to check out our Hoops Rumors Glossary for more information on the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception.

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