David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that we may have a deal on one piece of the NBA lockout puzzle: the mid-level exception. Without having the specifics, Aldridge reports that it will shrink in size under a new, heretofore mythical collective bargaining agreement.
The Kings wouldn't be using the mid-level exception this year because the team is deeply under the cap. (The team would have to spend big money on Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert to never technically go under the cap when you consider "cap hits" -- if you're under the cap at any point, you lose your exceptions. This is also a reminder that the Heat's front office was genius last summer: despite clearing the cap space for three near-max contracts, Miami technically never went under the cap ... allowing them to sign Mike Miller. Just genius work.)
This does matter to the Kings in the immediate, though: Dalembert is a prototype mid-level exception guy. If the dollars on a mid-level come down enough, though, he won't be as willing to jump on such an offer from a team like Miami, New York or another playoff-caliber team. That would make him a bigger fish in the sign-and-trade game ... assuming the sign-and-trade game still exists in a new CBA. That could end up netting the Kings an asset such as a draft pick or a prospect.
Looking further down the road, crimping the mid-level helps lower revenue teams like the Kings because the mid-level has historically inflated the prices of average NBA players. If the mid-level in 2009 had been just $3 million or so, Beno Udrih probably would have signed for that amount. For a team like the Kings, who aim to dedicate much of their cap to legit stars and can't afford to go well over the cap consistently, lower salaries for non-stars is emphatically a good thing.