The bi-annual exception was used to sign any free agent to a contract starting at $1.672 million. Like the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception was also split among more than one player, and was used to sign players for up to two years, which raised limited to 8% per year. This exception was referred to as the "$1 million exception" in the 1999 CBA, although it was valued at $1 million for only the first year of the agreement.
An example of the bi-annual exception was the Los Angeles Lakers' signing of Karl Malone to a contract before the 2003–04 season.
The exception was eliminated following the 2011 NBA lockout as many high spending teams were using this as a tool to gain top paid players