NBA, players association agree to new seven-year CBA

Adrian Wojnarowski
NBA commissioner Adam Silver (AP)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver (AP)

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have agreed to a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement.

The deal could potentially deliver labor peace to the NBA through the 2023-24 season – with a mutual opt-out available to be exercised in 2022.

The owners and players must ratify the deal negotiated by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, but that is considered a relative formality. The league and union have agreed to extend the Thursday deadline to opt out of the previous deal until Jan. 13 to allow the sides to ratify the agreement.

The agreement includes a great deal of status quo economically, including no change in the basketball-related income split of 50-50 and negligible change in the salary-cap and luxury-tax rules, league sources said.

In an effort to incentivize players to re-sign with their own teams, designated veteran star players will be able to sign five-year extensions with a year left on their current deals – an additional year over the four years previously allowed, league sources said. For example, Oklahoma City and Indiana could re-sign Russell Westbrook and Paul George, respectively, to deals this summer that could keep them under contract for the next six seasons.

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.

Criteria for those designated players will be based on achievements, including appearances on All-NBA teams and Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year award winners, league sources said.

The NBA’s 36-and-over rule that prohibits players from signing a five-year maximum contract if their 36th birthday falls during the life of the deal has changed to a 38-and-under rule, league sources said. 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.

For now, the NBA will keep its one-and-done rule, allowing college players to enter the NBA draft one year from their high school class graduating, sources said. Nevertheless, the league and union will continue discussing alternatives to the draft-entry rule and could agree to change the early-entry rule over the course of the labor agreement, league sources said. The NBA has been advocating a rule that forces American players to spend two years in college – or outside the NBA – before becoming eligible for entry into the NBA draft.

The NBA will raise rookie, veteran minimum and mid-level exception salaries by 50 percent, pushing the average salary of an NBA player in the range of $8.5 million, league sources said.

In the lockout of 2011, the NBA said a third of its franchises were losing money in the operation of their teams. The NBA signed a new $24 billion television deal that changed the financial complexion of the league, and nearly half the teams are now valued at around $1 billion.

The reduction of the preseason – and adding a week to the regular season that will start in late October – will reduce the number of exhibition games, back-to-back games in the regular season and ultimately provide more rest for players.

The NBA and the union will deliver health insurance for retired players beginning Jan. 1. Every player with three-plus years of service will be eligible.

Pensions will increase nearly 50 percent and will start payouts to retirees at age 50.

The new CBA will create a program targeted at domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault that will include counseling and treatment for players and families.

With two-way contracts between the NBA and NBA Development League, teams can control the development of younger players in the D-League without the fear of losing them to other teams. The union gets more jobs for players with each team able to have 16th and 17th roster spots for players shuttling between leagues. For some players, this will make it more financially feasible to pass over more lucrative overseas contracts to stay in the NBA/D-League.

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