The NBA is back — almost
After 148 days of contentious negotiations, finger pointing, lawsuits, and accusations of racism, the NBA and the players agreed to a tentative collective bargaining agreement on Nov. 26.
It did not take lawsuits but instead the harsh reality that if the 2011-12 season was to be saved, it needed to happen now. The NBA had stated many times that it had no desire to start the shortened season after Christmas and had also stated that it would need about 30 days to go from a handshake deal to getting the league up and running, so if the two sides wanted to make a deal happen, it had to happen on or about Nov. 25.
Of course this deal is not official yet. There are still some small issues to hammer out (draft age, drug testing, etc.) and until both sides officially sign off on the deal, either side could harpoon it. However, it appears unlikely that either side will do so.
The more likely scenario is that the two sides agree on all the details and sign off on the deal. The players will withdraw their lawsuit and reconstitute the Players Association (basically proving Commissioner David Stern correct when he said the union’s disclaiming interest was nothing more than a negotiating tactic). And both sides go back to raking in billions of dollars. Everybody wins.
Given that, the 2011-12 NBA season will begin on Dec. 25 and consist of a 66-game schedule running until Apr. 26. There will be a brief free agency period, starting around Dec. 9 with short training camps and a handful of exhibition games to follow leading up to Opening Day.
But how will the new CBA affect the 30 teams in the NBA? Here’s a look at some of the more interesting bits from the tentative agreement.
BRI split : The players accepted the NBA’s proposal of a band between 49 and 51 percent. This means that players will receive more than 50 percent if BRI comes in higher than projected and less than 50 percent if the league falls short of projections.
Player 2011-12 contract values : Players’ contracts will be prorated to 66/82 to reflect a 66-game season. Therefore Kobe Bryant, for example, will receive $20.3 million this season instead of $25.3 million.
Salary cap : The salary cap will be a soft one as in the previous CBA.
Salary-cap exceptions : Teams that do not exceed the luxury tax may sign a player using a mid-level exception every season. The exception will start at $5 million in years one and two of the CBA and increase three percent in subsequent years. This exception can be for a maximum of four years. As well, teams that do not exceed the luxury tax can also utilize bi-annual exceptions, starting at $1.9 million. This exception will grow three percent in every year after the first year of the CBA. The bi-annual exception will be for a maximum of two years.
For teams that start free agency under that salary cap and spend above the salary cap by re-signing their own free agents, a new “Room Exception” is available. These teams can sign one or more free agents to contracts that total no more than $2.5 million and last for two years. The $2.5 million starting point will grow three percent in subsequent seasons.
For teams that have spent into the luxury tax, a mid-level exception starting at $3 million and running for three years maximum is available every year. The $3 million starting point will grow three percent in subsequent years.
Minimum team salary : The minimum team salary will be 85 percent of the salary cap for years one and two of the CBA and increase to 90 percent thereafter. This is intended to encourage the teams who traditionally stay well below the salary cap to spend more on players.
Luxury tax : The luxury tax rates will remain at the same dollar-for-dollar level for years one and two. Afterwards, teams spending up to $5 million over will see a $1.50-for-$1 rate. Teams spending between $5 and $10 million will see a $1.75-for-$1 rate, teams between $10 and $15 million will see a $2.50-for-$1 rate, teams between $15 and $20 million will see a $3.25-for-$1 rate, and tax rates will increase an additional $0.50 for every $5 million beyond a team goes into the luxury tax.
Repeat offender tax : The luxury tax rates will see a $1 increase at every tax level for any team that exceeds the luxury tax in four out of any five concurrent seasons. That would make the tax rate $2.50-for-$1 for a repeat offender that is up to $5 million over the tax.
Extend-and-trade : This is the so-called “Carmelo Rule” that was talked about. Basically, if a team signs a player to a contract extension and then trades him, the extension can only be for three years (including the remaining year(s) on his contract) and will have just 4.5-percent raises associated with it. Furthermore, if a player signs an extension with a team for greater than either figure allowable under the new extend-and-trade rules, then that team is prohibited from trading that player for six months. And any player acquired in a trade will be prohibited from signing an extension with their new team at either a contract length or salary figure higher than allowable under extend-and-trade rules for six months.
Sign-and-trade : After the 2012-13 season, teams will be prohibited from acquiring a free agent via a sign-and-trade if the team’s salary will be $4 million over the luxury tax afterwards. As well, the contracts will be for four years with 4.5-percent raises annually.
Qualifying Offers : Beginning in 2012-13, any first-round pick between Nos. 10-30 who either starts 41 games on average in his first two seasons or averages 2,000 minutes over the same time span will be eligible to receive a Qualifying Offer equal to a No. 9 pick. Any second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the above criteria will be eligible to receive a Qualifying Offer equal to a No. 21 pick. On the flip side, any Lottery pick (Nos. 1-14) who fails to meet the above criteria will be eligible to receive a Qualifying Offer equal to a No. 15 pick. Otherwise, all Qualifying Offers remain the same.
Offer sheets : Teams have three days to match offer sheet on restricted free agents, down from seven in the last CBA.
Maximum contract : Maximum contract values will not change except for star players who outperform their rookie-scale contracts. Any rookie-scale player will be eligible to re-sign with his current team at a starting salary of 30 percent of the salary cap if he meets one of the following criteria: a) named NBA MVP once, b) voted an All-Star starter twice, or c) is named to an All-NBA Team twice.
Annual increases : Players who re-sign with their current teams using Bird or Early Bird rights can receive a maximum 7.5 percent raise every season. Players who sign elsewhere can receive a maximum of 4.5 percent.
Contract length : Bird and Early Bird players can receive five years max; other free agents can receive four. Rookies can receive four new years after their rookie contract expires unless a team labels him a Designated Player, allowing him to sign for five years at the maximum salary. A team can only have one Designated Player on its roster at a time.
Amnesty : Each team will be able to waive one player over the duration of the CBA and have his contract removed from the team’s salary cap and luxury tax numbers. However, the waived player will not be free to sign wherever he chooses. Any team with salary-cap space can submit offers to assume part, but not all, of the player’s remaining contract and acquire the player. In other words, if Rashard Lewis or Baron Davis are waived via amnesty, they cannot simply collect checks from their former teams and sign with teams like the Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers for veteran minimum deals. They could instead be claimed by the Sacramento Kings or Toronto Raptors.
CBA length : The CBA will last for 10 years, with both the NBA and Players Association able to opt out after year six.
By: Eric Lorenz
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