Adam Silver says NBA intends to opt out of CBA if Friday deadline not met; NBPA calls decision 'disappointing'

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters on Wednesday the league intends to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement on Friday if a mutually agreed-upon deadline isn't met, a decision the NBPA called "disappointing."

Silver made his comments on the heels of a two-day meeting of league owners as the NBA and NBPA are in the midst of negotiating a new CBA that would take effect when the current expires after the 2023-24 season. The two sides previously agreed to a deadline of Friday at midnight that would allow either side to opt out of the current CBA effective June 30.

The sides have already extended previous such deadlines in order to continue negotiations without the specter of an expiring CBA. They did so in December and again in February, which extended the deadline to March 31. Silver said Wednesday the league won't extend the deadline again if a new CBA isn't reached by Friday.

"If we don’t have a deal by this Friday night and nothing else were to happen, yes, it would be our intention to opt out of the current deal," Silver told reporters when asked about the league's plans.

NBPA: NBA opt-out would be 'disappointing'

NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio issued a statement, including to Yahoo Sports, in response to Silver's that the union "does not intend to opt out." The NBA's pending decision to opt out would leave the league at risk of a lockout if a new CBA isn't reached by June 30.

"The March 31st deadline is an important benchmark, and we are doing everything in our power to reach an agreement with the league. If we don't have a deal and the league decides to opt out, it will be disappointing considering all the work both sides have put into the negotiations, and the fair nature of our requests. As far as our fans are concerned, it will be business as usual. Games will continue uninterrupted. The NBPA however does not intend to opt out," Tremaglio's statement reads.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver at a news conference during the 2023 All-Star Saturday Night at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
Adam Silver said that the NBA is prepared to opt out of the CBA if a Friday deadline isn't met. (Kirby Lee/Reuters)

Silver emphasized the league's decision to opt out wouldn't portend the collapse of negotiations, but described failing to meet Friday's deadline as a potential "lost opportunity."

"It doesn’t therefore mean, though, that the deal will sunset at the end of June, because we’ll still have April, May and June to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement," Silver said. "I still think it would be a lost opportunity in this window because I think the pressure — by the way, both sides have the right to opt out."

He also didn't rule out the hypothetical scenario of extending the deadline by "a few more days."

"I could imagine if it came midnight Friday night, and we were having a productive discussion and somebody said, 'We could use a few more days,' we would agree to a few more days," Silver said. "But that’s more of a hypothetical. It’s not a discussion we’ve had with them."

The current CBA was initially agreed upon in 2017 and included the mutual June 30 opt-out option upon its ratification.

NBA hasn't had lockout since 2011

The NBA last saw a work stoppage in 2020 in the form of a wildcat strike initiated by Milwaukee Bucks players during the NBA bubble. That brief stoppage was part of a social justice protest in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The last NBA work stoppage related to a labor dispute took place in 2011. Team owners initiated a lockout on July 1 of that year that lasted until the league and union reached terms on revenue sharing and salary cap conditions on Nov. 26. The stoppage cost the league 16 games that season as teams played a 66-game regular season schedule.

Hard salary cap proposal has reportedly been a wedge

Neither side has engaged in public negotiations thus far, but a proposed hard salary cap that sources described to the Associated Press as an “upper spending limit” appears to be at issue. Per the AP, the proposal would eliminate the luxury tax that allows teams to spend over the current soft salary cap via a financial penalty.

For example, the Golden State Warriors spent nearly $350 million in salary and luxury tax last season en route to winning the NBA championship. The salary cap last season was $112.4 million. Per AP, the Warriors are spending $360 million this season, nearly four times as much as the San Antonio Spurs and three times the Memphis Grizzlies.

Per the report, the league proposal would replace the luxury tax system with a hard salary cap. The NBPA is not interested in the plan, per AP.

Other issues reportedly on the table are eliminating the "one-and-done" rule that prohibits players from joining the NBA straight out of high school and installing game minimums for players to qualify for season-ending awards.

Silver described negotiations as having a "very positive tenor" and expressed "hope" toward getting a deal done by Friday.

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