2017 Labor Negotiations

Amnesty Clause Unlikely To Remain In Next CBA

There isn’t enough support among NBA owners to retain the amnesty clause in the new CBA, which could impact the Heat’s long-term decision on Chris Bosh, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports.

The amnesty clause was included in the past two CBAs, which allowed each team to waive one of its player contracts and have 100% of the player’s salary removed from the team’s salary for cap and tax purposes. The team still had to pay that player.

Without an amnesty clause included in the next agreement, the Heat would lose one of their best options regarding Bosh. They refuse to medically clear Bosh, whose last two seasons have been cut short by blood clots, leaving Bosh in limbo. Bosh has three years and approximately $76MM remaining on his contract.

The two sides are close to finalizing the new CBA, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported earlier. Windhorst offers a few more tidbits on the negotiations:

  • Players are expected to have the ability to sign an extension two years after the date they signed their current contract, rather than three seasons.
  • Restricted free agents will be able to agree to offer sheets on the first day of free agency — July 1 — instead of waiting to July 7. The window for teams to decide to match offer sheets would be reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. That would make it more appealing for suitors to make those offers, since they are often hamstrung financially until a final decision is made.
  • Teams would no longer be able to pull qualifying offers from RFAs, which is currently allowed prior to July 31.

CBA Pact Close, One-And-Done Rule Stays

The NBA and the Players’ Association moved closer to a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement during a meeting on Wednesday with most major items agreed upon, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The controversial “one-and-done” draft rule, in which players must be one year removed from high school to be draft eligible, will remain in place. The league retreated on its desire to revise the draft rule to two years after a player graduated high school, Wojnarowski adds.

The pact will be a seven-year deal, according to sports business expert Scott Soshnick (Twitter link).

The encouraging pace of the negotiations has been the biggest story during this NBA preseason. Both sides are trying to avert the December 15 deadline, when either the owners or players could opt out of the current agreement.

The owners and players believe a finalized deal is inevitable in the next few weeks, league sources told Wojnarowski. The NBPA is eager to sell the rank-and-file on the terms of a deal, which needs to be ratified, Wojnarowski adds.

Among the other details that league sources told Wojnarowski:

  • The NBA will change the 36-and-over rule that now prohibits players from signing a five-year maximum contract if their 36th birthday occurs within the life of the deal. The NBA and union have tentatively agreed to change the rule to over 38.
  • The league will raise rookie-scale, veteran minimum and free-agent exception deals in the 50 percent range over current numbers.
  • Two-way contracts between the NBA and the D-League will offer teams the chance to add 16th and 17th roster spots, and pay players differently based upon their assignments in either the league’s minor league or as part of the parent club.
  • The NBA and NBPA’s Basketball Related Income (BRI) split will be unchanged.

That’s not surprising, given that the Associated Press reported earlier this month that the BRI would remain in the 49 to 51 percent range. Taking care of retired players is a priority, Cavs superstar LeBron James told the AP recently, and the agreement will include new league­-funded programs to help retired players with education and medical expenses. In exchange for those programs, and pending full approval from both sides, the BRI split would remain the same.

And-Ones: Stackhouse, Labor, Olympics, Garnett

The Raptors are expected to name former All-Star Jerry Stackhouse as head coach of their D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, sources told Chris Reichert of UpsideMotor.com. Stackhouse, who played for eight teams during a career that lasted from 1995-2013, spent last season on Dwane Casey’s staff. He would replace Jesse Mermuys, who is now an assistant to new Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton. Stackhouse coached the Raptors’ Summer League team in Las Vegas last month. Raptors 905 was an expansion team last season and had several players that also saw action in the NBA, including Anthony Bennett, Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright and Lucas Nogueira, Reichert adds.

In other news around the league:

  • NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is optimistic a new labor agreement will be reached before a potential lockout, she told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “Our teams have been in discussions for some months now and we have made progress and we’re inclined to continue along those lines,” she said. “We have meetings this summer and we’re meeting next week and [consistently] after that. We’re trying to get a deal as quickly as we can, ideally before the start of the season.” Roberts added that if an agreement isn’t reached by the Dec. 15th deadline, the union would likely opt out, triggering the possible lockout following the season.
  • American fans will get their first look at a lot of foreign players during the Summer Olympics, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. There will be many players whose names are familiar because teams hold their draft rights, such as Croatian star Dario Saric, who recently signed to play for the Sixers next season. Other prominent names include Lithuania’s Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Spain’s Willy Hernangomez, who will both be part of the Knicks; Nigeria’s Michael Gbinije, a second-round pick of the Pistons; China’s Zhou Qi, a Rockets’ second-rounder; Spain’s Sergio Llull, who the Rockets have been trying to convince to come to the NBA, Lithuania’s Domantas Sabonis, who was traded to the Thunder on draft night; and Spain’s Alex Abrines, who recently signed with the Thunder.
  • Kevin Garnett met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor but no final decision materialized regarding Garnett’s future, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The 40-year-old Garnett, who appeared in 38 games last season, has one year and $8MM remaining on his contract.
  • CAA Sports signed NBA free agent guards Sergio Rodriguez and Ish Smith and negotiated deals with their new clubs, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The Sixers signed the 30-year-old Rodriguez to a one-year, $8MM contract. Smith received a three-year, $18MM deal from the Pistons.

And-Ones: Silver, Simmons, Sterling, Valentine

Commissioner Adam Silver stumped for raising the NBA’s minimum age to 20 and pointed to an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association to shorten this summer’s July moratorium as a sign of a high level of trust between the league and the union, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. The commissioner made his comments Tuesday while also noting that the moratorium change is only for this summer (Twitter link). “I would say with this executive director [Michele Roberts], I’d say there are a lot of things we work out behind closed doors all the time,” Silver said. “Issues that are not necessarily high profile – we deal with each other on a daily basis.  Again, these are our players.  This is our union.  It didn’t surprise me we worked out [the moratorium issue].”
The league and the union have until December 15th to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement. See more from around the NBA:
  • Elite draft prospect Ben Simmons has confirmed his selection of the Klutch Sports Group as his agency, as he revealed in a video on the Twitter feed for Uninterrupted.com. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported last week that the former LSU combo forward would sign with Klutch and agent Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James, among others.
  • A federal district court judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that former Clippers owner Donald Sterling brought against the NBA in his continued dispute of the 2014 $2 billion sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, as Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times details. The suit, in which Sterling sought more than $1 billion in damages and named wife Shelley Sterling and former NBA commissioner David Stern among the defendants, alleged that the NBA conspired to strip him of the team.
  • The yawning gap between Denzel Valentine‘s superb offensive talents and his glaring defensive shortcomings make him a particularly intriguing draft prospect liable to go anywhere from the late lottery to the end of the first round, observes Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress in a scouting report. Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors went in-depth on the Michigan State senior earlier this month.

NBA, NBPA Agree To Shorten Moratorium

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have agreed to shorten the free agent moratorium to five days, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. This year’s free agency moratorium will last from July 1st-6th. Free agent contracts can now be signed much sooner after verbal agreements are reached, Wojnarowski points out. (Twitter links).

The league office sent a memo Thursday to team owners, front-office executives, financial representatives and team counsels regarding the change, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. Any changes to the current collective bargaining agreement typically require a side letter signed by the league and the players, and rules regarding the moratorium fall under the CBA, Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes (Twitter link).

The moratorium lasted until July 9th during last season’s free agency period and controversy arose over DeAndre Jordan‘s late switch during his unrestricted free agency. Jordan made a verbal agreement with the Mavericks, then changed his mind and remained with the Clippers after some heavy lobbying by his Los Angeles teammates. A shorter free agency period will make it more difficult for such flip-flops to take place once a verbal agreement is reached.

The moratorium period gives the NBA a chance to audit its finances, project next season’s revenue and set salary cap levels. Those salary cap levels determine crucial financial items such as maximum and minimum player salaries, the luxury tax threshold, and signing tools such as the mid-level exception.

The moratorium was to run through July 11th for this summer and next prior to Thursday’s agreement, so this speeds up the free agency process by nearly a week, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out. The fact that the NBA and NBPA were able to find common ground on this issue bodes well for future negotiations, Pincus adds (Twitter links).

And-Ones: Silver, Martin, Motiejunas

Commissioner Adam Silver says that he loves the parity that exists in the NBA right now and believes it is good that smaller market teams are able to compete with larger ones for free agents, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today relays. “What we’re seeing now is that players are moving to markets that have cap room and players are moving to markets where they see opportunities to play,” Silver said. “It’s not a function of market size these days. It’s a function of the management of the team and the opportunity in that market. That’s what you want for a league.

Silver is concerned at how this summer’s anticipated cap spike will change the league’s dynamic, Zillgitt notes. “It will be disruptive and having been around the league for a long time, I only know it’s going to be disruptive in ways that we can’t even predict,” Silver said. “It’s not the way we modeled the CBA going into the last collective-bargaining agreement. We thought we would have more regular increases from year to year [in the salary cap]. You like to have a system where planning is rewarded and management is rewarded. Now, with all this unexpected cap room, teams that should not have had that kind of room [to spend] of course will have it.

Both the National Basketball Players Association and the league can opt out of the current CBA by December 15th, and Silver noted, “clearly we’re operating under the premise that if we can’t get a new deal negotiated by then, they are likely to opt out. That puts a lot of pressure on both sides to work over the next 10 months, which is a long time, to get an extension done,” the USA Today scribe adds. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Grizzlies have recalled power forward Jarell Martin from their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Martin has averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 30.6 minutes in seven games during his five assignments to Iowa this season.
  • The Pistons have recalled Spencer Dinwiddie from their D-League affiliate, Keith Langlois of NBA.com tweets. The move was made so Detroit’s team doctors could examine the point guard’s sprained ankle, Langlois adds.
  • The Rockets have recalled swingman K.J. McDaniels and power forward Donatas Motiejunas from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.

NBA Franchise Values Up 13%, Knicks On Top

A new local TV deal and the league’s highest take from premium seating propelled the Knicks into the top spot of the Forbes annual NBA team valuations, which the magazine released today via Forbes.com, as Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.com details. The Lakers, last year’s most valuable franchise, fell to No. 2, but they remain the league’s most profitable team, Badenhausen notes, adding that Forbes’ findings show the Nets as the only team not to turn a profit, which the NBA will surely dispute. Indeed, the league often dismisses the Forbes data, though it doesn’t make its information publicly available.

NBA franchises are worth an average of $1.25 billion, according to Forbes. That’s 13% more than last year as the league continues to show gains even after last year’s 74% jump, which was related to the $24 billion TV deal the league struck with its media partners in 2014, as Badenhausen points out. Forbes pegs 13 teams at $1 billion or more, up from just three in 2015. Teams generated $5.2 billion in revenue and $900MM in operating profit last season, according to Badenhausen. The Knicks are worth more than every U.S. sports team except the NFL’s Cowboys and Patriots and Major League Baseball’s Yankees, Badenhausen notes.

Here’s a look at how each NBA team stacks up, according to Forbes:

  1. Knicks: $3 billion (last year: $2.5 billion)
  2. Lakers: $2.7 billion (last year: $2.6 billion)
  3. Bulls: $2.3 billion (last year: $2 billion)
  4. Celtics: $2.1 billion (last year: $1.7 billion)
  5. Clippers: $2 billion (last year: $1.6 billion)
  6. Warriors: $1.9 billion (last year: $1.3 billion)
  7. Nets: $1.7 billion (last year: $1.5 billion)
  8. Rockets: $1.5 billion (last year: $1.25 billion)
  9. Mavericks: $1.4 billion (last year: $1.15 billion)
  10. Heat: $1.3 billion (last year: $1.175 billion)
  11. Spurs: $1.15 billion (last year: $1 billion)
  12. Cavaliers: $1.1 billion (last year: $915MM)
  13. Suns: $1 billion (last year: $910MM)
  14. Raptors: $980MM (last year: $920MM)
  15. Trail Blazers: $975MM (last year: $940MM)
  16. Wizards: $960MM (last year:$900MM)
  17. Thunder: $950MM (last year: $930MM)
  18. Kings: $925MM (last year: $800MM)
  19. Magic: $900MM (last year: $875MM)
  20. Jazz: $875MM (last year: $850MM)
  21. Nuggets: $855MM (last year: $855MM)
  22. Pistons: $850MM (last year: $810MM)
  23. Pacers: $840MM (last year: $830MM)
  24. Hawks: $825MM (last year: $825MM)
  25. Grizzlies: $780MM (last year: $750MM)
  26. Hornets: $750MM (last year: $725MM)
  27. Timberwolves: $720MM (last year: $625MM)
  28. Sixers: $700MM (last year: $700MM)
  29. Bucks: $675MM (last year: $600MM)
  30. Pelicans: $650MM (last year: $650MM)

And-Ones: Union, Tucker, Labissiere

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are on solid footing with each other, commissioner Adam Silver and union president Chris Paul indicate to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Both sides reportedly want to make significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement over the next year.

“I’m not going to rank the relationship, as compared to other times,” Silver said to Bontemps. “I would only say that the relationship, from my standpoint, is very healthy right now between the league and the players’ association.”

Less than a year remains before the December 15th, 2016 deadline for either side to exercise its mutual option to terminate the existing collective bargaining agreement after next season. See more on the players union amid the latest from around the NBA:

  • The union has filed a multimillion dollar countersuit against former executive director Billy Hunter, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Hunter is seeking $10.5MM in damages as part of his suit, and while the union didn’t specify how much it’s looking for, Berger suggests the number is in excess of $6MM. A new collective bargaining agreement between the union and the NBA is likely to come before resolution on the Hunter matter, Berger contends.
  • P.J. Tucker is drawing interest from many teams around the league, as TNT’s David Aldridge indicates within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com, one that suggests a series of trade ideas. The Suns small forward is making $5.5MM this season but has only $1.5MM guaranteed for next year.
  • Kentucky forward/center Skal Labissiere‘s draft stock continues to fall, as Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress slots him at No. 5 in his latest mock draft and rankings, having dropped him from No. 1 to No. 3 earlier this month. LSU combo forward Ben Simmons tops Givony’s latest list, with Duke small forward Brandon Ingram and power forward Dragan Bender of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv to follow.

Owners, Players Seek Entirely New Labor Deal

The NBA and the players union want to make significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement by December 15th, 2016, the deadline that either side has to inform the other that it wants to exercise its mutual option after the 2016/17 season, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The owners and players want to have a new deal that would replace the current agreement, which runs through 2020/21. The league and the union held preliminary talks earlier this month.

Dissatisfaction exists with the current system among small-market teams that don’t like the imbalance of local broadcast revenue that funnels more money to large markets and helps them pay the tax, Berger writes. Spending on mid-tier players is a potential source of friction on the players’ side, Berger says, though the existing system would make the mid-level exception progressively less valuable.

Players risk the league going after a hard cap and limits on guaranteed salary if they opt out of the current deal, as Berger notes, echoing remarks commissioner Adam Silver made in the spring as well as in October. Union executive director Michele Roberts has signaled at times that she’ll be aggressive in negotiations with the league, though both Roberts and Silver are approaching their first major labor talks since assuming their respective positions.

The influx of money from the league’s recent $24 billion TV deal has distorted some of the proportions the league and the players intended when they negotiated the last deal in 2011, as Berger details. Annual league revenues have climbed from $3.8 billion in 2011 to nearly $5 billion and are projected to jump to around $6 billion next year, Berger reports. The drastically rising salary cap has prompted more teams to venture into luxury tax territory this season, with eight above the tax line at this point, Berger points out, noting its negative effect on competitive balance.

And-Ones: NBPA, Ennis, Warriors Arena

The league and the NBPA held preliminary talks today regarding the next collective bargaining agreement, NBA.com’s David Aldridge relays (via TwitLonger). The two parties issued a joint statement regarding the meeting, which read, “Earlier today the NBA and NBPA met to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA]. Meeting participants included NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and representatives of the NBA Labor Relations Committee and NBPA Executive Committee as well as league and union staff. It was a preliminary meeting that included constructive dialogue, and we agreed to continue our discussions.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • New Sixers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo has said that for this year, he’ll work in less of an active role and more of advisory capacity with Sixers management, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • According to a recent poll commissioned by the Mission Bay Alliance and conducted by EDC Research, public opposition to the Warriors‘ proposed stadium in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood is growing, NBCBayArea.com relays. The proposal is currently garnering 49% voter support, a 12% decline in support since a Warriors-commissioned poll released in July showed approximately 61% support for the new development, the article notes.
  • The league has formed a committee to examine the increase in injuries related to tendon inflammation and pain, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com writes. “Player health and wellness is our top priority, and the NBA’s research partnership with GE Healthcare is a significant step toward understanding injuries that affect NBA players,” Silver said in the NBA’s official statement. “Both everyday athletes and elite professionals will benefit from our collaboration, and I’d like to thank [GE Healthcare U.S. and Canada President] Marcelo [Mosci] and his team for bold vision and hard work.
  • The Grizzlies have assigned James Ennis to the Iowa Energy, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Ennis’ second sojourn of the season to Iowa.