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NBA Lockout: Mid-Level Exception Remains Sticking Point, Say Reports

The use of the full mid-level exception by teams above the luxury tax threshold remains a sticking point in NBA lockout talks, reports SI.com's Zach Lowe. The owners had offered a mini mid-level exception in its weekend proposal, but the players' union isn't satisfied with the idea and continues to push for open use of the leaguewide mid-level, which will reportedly be set at a starting salary of $5 million with terms up to four years.

The league's mini mid-level proposal is limited to a two-year contract starting at $2.5 million, and tax teams can only use it every other year. This comes in addition to other special penalties the league has cooked up to deter teams from spending well over the salary cap. Lowe reports that progress is being made, though an agreement on the mid-level exception isn't necessarily close.

The league has softened its proposal to take the full mid-level exception from teams that pay the luxury tax and replace it with a miniature mid-level worth half as much, according to one source familiar with the matter.

The two sides will meet again at noon E.T. on Thursday.