Many of you have pleaded with us to set the record straight on this. I'll do my best. (correct me if I'm wrong)
What did we get?
We got $5.5M to use before August 1, 2006
Can we couple that with a player to get a player with a larger salary?
No. We cannot add the exception to Blount's contract ($5.5M) and get a player making $11M. It just isn't allowed.
Can we combine this trade exception with another trade exception?
Again, no. Not allowed. The only way it works is if there are 2 players coming back that make $5.5M and whatever the other exception is.
Can you use just part of the exception? Say about $2M?
Yes. You can use part of it and keep the rest for later.
Can you use it to trade for a player making $6.875M (using the 125% rule)?
No. The 125% rule only applies to player for player trades.
Can we use this do complete a sign-and-trade with another team?
Yes. New Jersey did it this year to pick up SAR from Portland. Given the amount of the exception, this would be a good way to pick up a guy looking to sign for the MLE but wanting to get the extra year that only his current team can give him under the CBA.
Note: That last point is critical. Next year, we'll be able to offer MLE level guys more than any other team that doesn't have a trade exception.
My guess is that if we don't use this exception this year on a MLE player (and who's left really?), we'll save it to use next offseason. Perhaps we could pick up a player at the trade deadline, but it seems more realistic that it would happen in the offseason.
Did I cover everything? I'll update if there are more questions.