The NBA's new CBA means basketball for years to come
The NBA gave basketball fans the very best news on Wednesday evening, as owners and the players came to a tentative labor agreement ahead of the deadline for either side to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement.
What does that mean for you? Here's everything you need to know about the new CBA, from all the (reported) details to the fallout from the new deal.
What does it mean? We'll have basketball through the 2022-23 season, at least, with the deal formally extending through the 2023-24 season prior to either side opting out (or the two sides reaching a new deal, as they did this time).
Getty ImagesVaughn Ridley
There are massive raises for all kinds of players
Bloomberg.com's Scott Soshnick reports that minimum salaries will rise by approximately 45 percent beginning next season, with the average NBA salary set to increase from just over $5 million to $8.5 million. The current split of basketball-related income (51 percent players, 49 percent owners) is expected to stay roughly the same.
Rookies, mid-level players, those who sign deals for the bi-annual exception, and veterans with 10 years of experience also will receive raises in the new agreement. Aldridge reports the maximum salary for such a player next season is expected to be $36 million, "allowing a player to sign a five-year deal with his existing team for around $210 million."
What does it mean? Remember the way people reacted this summer to the mindblowing amounts of money earned by guys such as Mike Conley? That reaction is only going to get worse in the coming years, as the average player starts to make more and more money.
On the other side, though, good for the players in earning their raises, although I kind of agree with Draymond Green that they could have asked for even more money. Remember, prior to the most recent CBA, players received 57 percent of basketball-related income, which was chopped way down to 51 percent in 2011.
Six-year contracts are back! (Sort of)
Under the new CBA, teams will be able to extend certain players up to six seasons, bringing back the rather long contracts that owners fought against in the previous labor negotiations. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that teams will be able to designate one veteran star to sign a five-year extension when their current deal has one year remaining, effectively creating a six-year contract:
"This rule will also be focused on players headed into their second contracts and headed toward restricted free agency, as well as players moving toward unrestricted free agency. It will allow players to be guaranteed more money to stay with their current teams over testing the free-agent market."
What does it mean? Owners were willing to surrender on one of their biggest sticking points in order to try to avoid the creation of superteams. By offering players more money on longer deals and increasing the pay scale for players across the board, teams hope to create less cap space and less player movement among the game's stars.
What does it mean? Business as usual for now, although owners likely will continue to push to expand the rule to two years in college before making the leap to the NBA, as more data means more cost certainty.
The players, meanwhile, don't have much motivation to fight back against the issue, since the union doesn't represent college players. My two cents: If and when college players win their rightful status as employees, the NBAPA should expand to include its future members as well.
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
The NBA is trying to fix the schedule
According to multiple reports, the NBA will shorten the preseason (to a maximum of six games) and start the regular season a week earlier to reduce back-to-backs and situations in which a team plays four games in five nights.
What does it mean? This should reduce the number of times superstars sit out games, but the problem won't go away entirely. So long as there are back-to-backs and especially that dreaded four-games-in-five-nights scenario, teams will rest players. The real solution is to reduce the number of games in the regular season or extend the NBA calendar even further.
Unfortunately, while the former solution is the best, it's also the unlikeliest. Neither side is going to give up the revenue they'd lose by changing the schedule to something like 65 or 70 games.
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"Basketball-related income" is expanding
The NBA designates certain revenue streams (television deals, gate receipts) as basketball-related income, which is split between players and owners, while fines, the money made from a team selling assets, and revenue sharing are not included in BRI. That will reportedly change under the new CBA, with more revenue falling under that umbrella.
What does it mean? More money for both sides, which is always a good thing.
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The NBA is taking care of its players, past and present
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the new CBA includes health care for retired players and benefits for current players, "including tuition reimbursement," to be paid for by both the NBA and the union.
What does it mean? That the NBA actually does care. The tuition reimbursement is a particularly cool touch, as it should encourage players to go back to finish their degrees either during the summer or once they're done playing.
Not that they need the financial aid, necessarily, but it's a nice impetus.
Both sides have an eye on the future of technology
As teams begin to experiment with wearable technology on and (mostly) off the court, the NBA has recognized the need for a systemic approach to the future. According to Bloomberg.com's Scott Soshnick, the NBA will form an advisory committee to explore the collection and use of data from such technology.
What does it mean? Both sides recognize that the world is changing rapidly and the NBA is ill-prepared to meet those changes head-on. By embracing technology, the powers that be are keeping an open mind — and that's incredibly valuable in its own right.
The D-League received a little love, too
As was widely reported in the weeks leading up to the new CBA, the NBA will increase maximum roster sizes from 15 to 17 players to facilitate so-called "two-way contracts" for D-League players.
Via ESPN.com, such contracts would stipulate that "a player's salary is based on NBA minimums when the player is "up" and an estimated $75,000 when the player is on assignment in the NBA Development League."
What does it mean? With 22 current teams and several more on the way in the coming years, the NBA is closing in on a true minor league system, with one-to-one affiliation between major teams and their D-League partners. That, in turn, means a better product, as players can develop within a franchise's system even if they're not able to crack their NBA team's rotation.
The old guard will keep getting paid
As reported by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA's current rule prohibiting a player from signing a five-year max deal if their 36th birthday falls during the course of that contract will change to allow players to sign such deals all the way through age 38:
"Several members of the union’s executive committee, including president Chris Paul, vice president LeBron James and executive committee member Carmelo Anthony could benefit financially from the rule. Under this change, Paul, a perennial All-Star, is eligible for a five-year, $207 million deal to stay with Los Angeles this summer."
What does it mean? Teams' renewed focus on player longevity means more and more veterans are going to be capable of playing up to max deals at increasingly advanced ages, and those guys should get paid. On the other hand, committing multiple guaranteed years to a player who could break down sooner than later can have massive repercussions for a team.
Just ask the Lakers.
So who won?
We won't really know the answer to that question until we have more specifics about the deal, and that could take time. For now, though, there is one clear winner: NBA fans.
Any looming threat of a work stoppage is long gone, which is the most important thing. There's also a legitimate sense that all invested parties — owners, players, union representatives, the league offices, and the commissioner — understand just how good the game is right now. That sense of camaraderie can only help the NBA moving forward.
And for the traditional fan who wants her or his favorite player to stay with the home team, this CBA is a real win. Between six-year deals and the long-term implications on cap space, the age of superteams might be at its end.