NBA, NBPA reach tentative agreement on reported 7-year CBA that includes in-season tournament

The NBA and NBA Players Association tentatively reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the sides announced early Saturday. The agreement must go to the players and the league’s Board of Governors to be ratified.

The two sides had previously agreed to a midnight ET Saturday deadline that would have allowed either side to opt out of the current agreement after the deadline passed, but worked to ensure a new deal was in place. The new CBA is reportedly for seven years and includes a mutual opt-out after the sixth year. It will reportedly begin in the 2023-24 season, replacing the current deal.

The new CBA will run through the 2029-30 season unless either side opts out after the 2028-29 season. The agreement means the league will avoid a work stoppage, which was always an unlikely situation. The last major stoppage was in the 2011-12 season, which was reduced to 66 games.

NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio released a statement following the announcement:

New provisions in CBA

Among the major inclusions in the new CBA: the long-discussed in-season tournament and a minimum game requirement for major end-of-season awards, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The in-season tournament could begin next season with the expectation that it would include games as part of the regular-season schedule in pool play and an eight-team, single-elimination tournament in December, according to ESPN. The semifinals and final are expected to be played in a neutral location. The tournament championship game would add one game to two teams’ schedules, but the remaining teams would continue to play 82 regular-season games. The winning team reportedly would receive $500,000 per player in prize money, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Players would need to appear in a minimum of 65 games for consideration in major awards, including MVP and All-NBA teams. The game requirement is in response to load management that has plagued the league in recent seasons. Many of the league’s stars are missing games, leaving fans at the mercy of the late injury reports to know whether they will see these players in person.

A new luxury tax level — estimated at $17.5 million above the current luxury tax, according to ESPN — also was established in the CBA that prevents teams from using midlevel exceptions in free agency. The league was pushing for an “upper spending limit” or a hard salary cap, which would have established a ceiling on how much teams could spend. Some teams are willing to pay a luxury tax that matched or even exceeded their total player salary payroll, which could be viewed as a disadvantage to smaller-market teams. The new luxury tax level is a seeming compromise. This change reportedly will be phased in over several seasons.

In response to the new luxury tax level, there could be new trade exceptions for teams that do not spend at the top of the tax. This could create new opportunities for teams to add players in free agency. Those changes are not yet fully known. Another way that teams can add additional players comes from an increase in two-way contract slots from the current two to three in the new deal, according to ESPN.

The CBA also increases the upper limits on veteran players’ contract extensions from the current 120% increase to a 140% increase, according to ESPN.

According to Charania, the new CBA will also give players the ability to invest in both NBA and WNBA teams, and promote and invest in both sports betting and cannabis companies.

Among the minor changes is formally removing marijuana from the league’s anti-drug testing program, according to Charania. Marijuana will no longer be prohibited under the new deal, but the league has not formally tested for the substance since the 2019-20 season.

Among the notable changes that were not included in the agreement was changing the league’s “one-and-done” rule that prohibits high school players from entering the NBA Draft. The policy was discussed, according to the Associated Press, but will not be included in the CBA.

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