Notable CBA Changes That Will Affect Free Agency

With July 1 just a few days away, the NBA is almost ready to turn the calendar and officially begin the 2017/18 league year. At the same time as the new league year gets underway, the league will also implement its new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and the players’ union.

For the most part, that CBA looks a lot like the previous CBA. There are very few major changes to the way players can be signed or otherwise acquired by NBA teams. However, the new agreement features several tweaks to existing rules, and many of those small changes will be noticeable once the 2017 free agent period officially opens on Saturday.

Below, we’ve rounded up most of the notable CBA changes that will affect this year’s free agent period. This list isn’t comprehensive. For more details, you can check out the NBA’s recap of key changes to the CBA, or – if you have a bit of a masochistic streak – you can even read the full CBA document. The changes we’ve listed below, however, are the ones that should be most important in the next few weeks.

Let’s dive in…

Salary cap management:

  • The salary cap and tax line for the new league year will be set by June 30. The cap and tax are currently projected to land at $99MM and $119MM, respectively.
  • The July moratorium will end on July 6 at 11:00am CT.
  • The tax apron will now be $6MM above the tax line instead of $4MM above the line. The apron represents a threshold that teams aren’t allowed to cross at any time for the rest of the league year if they’ve used the full mid-level exception or the bi-annual exception, or acquired a player via sign-and-trade.
  • The cap holds for first-round picks are now worth 120% of their rookie scale amounts, instead of 100%, slightly reducing available cap room for teams with first-rounders to consider. Those figures can be found here.

Restricted free agency:

  • Teams will now have two days instead of three days to match an offer sheet.
  • Restricted free agents will be able to formally sign offer sheets during the July moratorium. However, the clock for a player’s previous team to match his offer sheet won’t start until the moratorium ends. If a player signs an offer sheet during the moratorium, the player’s previous team will have until July 8 at 10:59am CT to match the offer.
  • The deadline to withdraw a qualifying offer to a free agent is now July 13, instead of July 23.

Other free agency:

  • Annual raises on new contracts can now be as high as 8% (Bird or Early Bird contracts) or 5% (all other contracts), instead of 7.5% and 4.5%.
  • The amounts of the mid-level, bi-annual, and minimum salary exceptions are increasing significantly. Mid-level and bi-annual figures can be found here, while 2017/18’s minimum salaries can be found right here.
  • The “over-36 rule,” which affected a player who signed a contract that extended beyond his 36th birthday, has been changed to the over-38 rule. This change may be beneficial for players like Chris Paul and Paul Millsap.
  • NBA teams now have the ability to sign a pair of players apiece to two-way contracts. Full details on these new two-way contracts can be found here.
  • Two-way contracts and minimum salary contracts can be officially signed during the July moratorium.


  • As of July 1, each team will be able to receive and send $5.1MM in trades for the 2017/18 league year. The limit for 2016/17 was $3.5MM. Cash paid and cash received in trades are two separate entities, meaning a team can’t exceed $5.1MM in cash paid by taking back money in another deal — if a team has paid $5.1MM and received $5.1MM, it can no longer use cash in trades.
  • The traded player exception will now allow non-taxpaying teams to take back up to 175% of the outgoing salary in a simultaneous trade. However, over-the-cap teams still can’t take back more than the outgoing salary plus $5MM for any amount up to $19.8MM, or more than 125% of the outgoing salary for any amount over $19.8MM.

Contract extensions:

  • Veteran players will now be eligible to sign contract extensions if two years have passed since they signed their last veteran contract. Previously, veterans didn’t become extension-eligible until three years had passed since their last signing date.
  • Veterans signing an extension are now eligible for an initial raise of up to 20%, instead of 7.5%.
  • The Designated Veteran Extension will be available for players who met a specific set of criteria related to years of experience, contract history, and All-NBA (or other award) honors. Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook will be the players to watch for the DVE this summer.
View Comments (1)