The trade exception that the Orlando Magic received when they dealt Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers one year ago Saturday expired at midnight Sunday. The exception--worth just more than $17.8 million, according to ShamSports--would have enabled Orlando to absorb some salary via an unbalanced trade.
For example, the Magic could have traded a small asset, such as a future second-round Draft choice, for a trade package whose salary is worth up to the value of the exception. As the league's largest exception, it figured to be valuable in theory, enabling the Magic to facilitate trades and perhaps extract an asset for their willingness to help their partners dump salary.
But in practice, the exception proved to be a bust. And as Orlando is over the salary cap, it cannot facilitate trades like it could have with the trade exception.
The Magic can still get under the cap by waiving or buying out Hedo Türkoğlu.
For details on how exactly Rob Hennigan, the Magic's general manager, structured the Howard deal to create the trade exception, please read Eric Pincus' breakdown at HOOPSWORLD. Larry Coon's NBA salary-cap FAQ page offers more general details about trade exceptions.