The Dallas Mavericks have made some interesting use of the mid-level exception. One they'd probably like to take back is the full MLE they handed to DeSagana Diop a few years back. This offseason, particularly if center Tyson Chandler is in the equation, the Mavs won't have the benefit of using the $5 million exception.
In the new collective bargaining agreement tentatively agreed to Saturday morning, the owners, according to multiple reports, compromised to allow teams that do not exceed $4 million over the luxury tax (expected to be about the same as last season's $70.3 million) to use the full mid-level exception (starting salary of $5 million with a contract length of four years). Teams that exceed $4 million over the luxury tax, as the Mavs are expected to do, will be relegated to a reduced mid-level exception with a starting salary of $3 million and a maximum length of three years.
The Mavs have $64.8 million locked into 10 contracts for the 2011-12 season. If the Mavs were to agree to re-sign Tyson Chandler to a contract that starts at, say, $10 million it would put Dallas close to or over the full mid-level limit and that's without even talking about re-signing J.J. Barea and at least one other minimum-salary type player to fill out the roster.
Even if Dallas had use of the full MLE, it might not elect to use it because it hopes to re-sign its own free agents. However, the owners' concession could aid more teams in getting into the MLE market and perhaps pursuing a Mavs free agent, such as Caron Butler, who is coming off a major knee injury, but could command a payday in the $5-million range and wants a multiyear deal.
An example is the Miami Heat, as laid out by Heat Index reporter Brian Windhorst. The $4 million buffer above the luxury tax threshold allows Miami to get into the full MLE game and add a quality player. Butler might not be on the top of the Heat's wish list, but Miami, which desperately needs a serviceable center more than another small forward, is just one example of a team that can now jump into the MLE fray.
Before the concession, owners did not want to allow taxpaying teams to benefit from any mid-level exception.