Collective Bargaining Agreement

And-Ones: CBA, Top FAs, Trade Value Ranks, Rookies

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are meeting in Boston on Wednesday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains, the league and union both have the ability to opt out of the current CBA this December, so the two sides are having a preliminary meeting as they prepare to engage in more serious talks about a new CBA in the coming months.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

And-Ones: Booster Shots, Plumlee, Saunders, Ramasar

The NBA and the Players Association are recommending booster shots for players and personnel who received their Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 shots more than six months ago, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago should also get a booster shot, per the NBA and NBPA. The league is recommending that those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get either a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Former NBA big man Miles Plumlee is close to signing with Guang Zhou Loong Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia reports. Plumlee has previously played in the CBA. He appeared in 19 games with Atlanta during the 2018/19 season, his most recent NBA stint.
  • Former Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders has found a new gig. He’ll be joining the University of Northwestern-St Paul faculty as an adjunct professor in the spring to teach a class on Sports Leadership, according to Jon Krawczynski  of The Athletic (Twitter links). However, Saunders intends to return to coaching soon. He had several chances to get back into the league but chose to take this season off for family reasons, per Krawczynski.
  • NBA agent Todd Ramasar believes the next Collective Bargaining Agreement will impose penalties on players who try to force trades shortly after signing long-term deals, as he told Ian Begley of SNY TV. “I do think there will be. Without getting into specifics, (I think it will be) similar to how the NBA probably adjusted fines for owners as it relates to tampering,” Ramasar said in an in-depth interview.

League Expected To Push For Super-Max Changes In CBA

League executives are expected to push for major changes in super-max contracts and medical evaluations for draft prospects, among numerous other issues, in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

The Ben Simmons saga has shined a light on the general failure of super-max contracts to keep star players on their current teams, Fischer writes. League executives are expected to seek stipulations in super-max contracts that would penalize players if they are granted trade requests. There are also concerns, particularly in small markets, of surrounding those players with enough talent to contend, since those contracts can eat up as much as 35% of a team’s cap.

The fact that Simmons requested a trade only one year into his five-year, $170MM contract from one of the league’s top Eastern Conference contenders has raised concerned among league officials, Fischer reports. Those executives have recently discussed the possibility of salary repercussions for such players who want out.

The proposals could include a “reverse trade kicker,” where those players would lose 15% of their salary when they’re dealt; a forfeiture of upwards of 70% of their salary; or losing a chunk of their guaranteed money.

To encourage the cooperation of the Players Association, the owners may give up a bigger slice of the BRI (Basketball Related Income).

League officials have also expressed frustration that players such as Kyrie Irving don’t have a vaccine requirement, yet basketball and business operations staffers have a vaccine mandate. They’re hoping that discrepancy could lead concessions by the union.

Another major sticking point is that draft prospects are not mandated to provide medical information to teams. Some agents have withheld a prospect’s medical information from certain teams to steer their clients to a preferred destination, Fischer notes.

Luxury-tax structures, the buyout market, G League exclusivity rights, two-way roster spots, the calendar order of the draft and free agency, and restricted free agency could also be topics of discussion during the next CBA negotiations, Fischer adds.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs through the 2023/24 season, with a mutual opt-out date in December 2022.

NBPA’s Roberts: Players Who Miss Games Due To Local Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Lose Salary

The National Basketball Players Association didn’t sign off on allowing teams to dock players 1/91.6th of their salaries for 2021/22 if they’re unable to play in a game due to a local vaccine mandate, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

The NBA announced last week that unvaccinated players who are ineligible to play in games in New York and San Francisco wouldn’t be paid for the games they miss due to those cities’ local mandates. A follow-up report indicated that the league and the players’ union had agreed on the amount of the fine for such a violation.

However, Roberts tells Bondy that while the NBPA approved that per-game penalty (1/91.6th of a player’s salary) for certain health and safety protocol violations, the union doesn’t believe it should apply to players who miss games solely for being unvaccinated.

“They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked (pay),” Roberts said. “We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”

As Roberts explains, the NBPA’s position is that a player shouldn’t be punished for being unvaccinated, since the NBA has no vaccine mandate of its own for its players. The league’s stance, per Roberts, is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to assess those penalties without NBPA approval.

“It’s debatable. We’ll see,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but I’m going to say it’s a bridge we’ll cross, if and when we get there. Right now, we’ve agreed that a player breaks protocols, that he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp. But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”

As far as we know, the only NBA player who is in real danger of being docked salary for missing games due to his vaccination status is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The local mandates in New York and San Francisco don’t apply to visiting players, and no other Nets, Knicks, or Warriors players have been reported as unvaccinated. An unvaccinated player in another market – such as Wizards guard Bradley Beal – should still be able to play in all 82 games.

[RELATED: Nets Unsure About Plan For Kyrie Irving]

While Irving, Beal, and a handful of other unvaccinated players have been the subject of an outsized number of headlines since training camps began, Roberts reiterated that the vast majority of NBA players are fully vaccinated. She told Kavitha Davidson of The Athletic (Twitter link) that there’s now a 96% vaccination rate among NBA players, noting that vaccinated players have played a role in helping convince some of the holdouts.

“We’re doing better than companies who are mandatory vaccinations because we’re at 95-96%,” Roberts said to Bondy. “100% is still an aspiration.”

And-Ones: Faried, Injuries, Revenue Sharing, Ignite

Former NBA big man Kenneth Faried signed with Puerto Rican team Leones de Ponce last week, as our JD Shaw tweets.

Faried, who will turn 32 next month, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2018/19 season, but hasn’t given up on getting back into the league. He reportedly received some consideration from the Knicks in the spring, then played for Portland’s Las Vegas Summer League team in August and worked out for the Lakers in September. For now though, Faried’s professional career will continue outside the NBA.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s team of basketball writers took a league-wide look at the injuries that will (or could) compromise players’ availability for opening night, checking in on where in the recovery process those players are and when we might see them back on the court.
  • Within a larger story about the Pelicans‘ ownership situation and succession plan, team president Dennis Lauscha shared an interesting tidbit, telling Jeff Duncan and Lee Zurik of that commissioner Adam Silver has said the NBA’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement will include an “enhanced revenue sharing model” to further assist smaller-market teams. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports has more details.
  • Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer takes a deep dive into the G League Ignite, exploring where the NBA G League’s developmental team stands after its first season and how the league envisions the program growing in the coming years.

Changes To NBA’s Extension Rules Have Reduced Star Movement In Free Agency

In their latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, which went into effect in 2017, the NBA and NBPA relaxed the rules for veteran contract extensions and introduced the “super-max” extension. The changes made it easier for players to qualify for extensions and ensured that many of those players wouldn’t necessarily earn more money if they waited for free agency.

As a result, the number of veteran stars agreeing to extensions prior to free agency has increased in recent years. Already this offseason, for instance, 10 players have finalized veteran extensions, and many of those players – including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Joel Embiid – are among the NBA’s biggest stars.

Under the previous CBA, there was little incentive for most veteran stars to get a deal done early. For instance, as Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes, after Durant won his MVP award in 2014, the Thunder could’ve only offered him a two-year, $44.9MM extension. If the current rules had been in place, a four-year, $139MM offer would’ve been possible. Or Durant could’ve signed a five-year, $178MM extension with Oklahoma City a year later.

While we don’t know if Durant would’ve accepted such an offer, we do know that opting for free agency was, at the time, the only viable path for him if he wanted to maximize his earnings. That opened the door for him to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State as a free agent.

“The extension rules have been a game changer to teams,” an Eastern Conference GM told Marks. “At least we are not caught off guard now if a player does not want to stay.”

As Marks details, players have become more inclined to lock in their lucrative long-term contracts early, knowing that if they do eventually want a change of scenery, there are ways to put pressure on the team to try to make that happen. Ben Simmons is currently pushing the Sixers to trade him with four years left on his contract, while it looked briefly this summer like Damian Lillard – who has four years left on his deal with the Trail Blazers – might take the same path.

“I always tell my client to take the money now in an extension and worry about the future later,” one agent said to ESPN. “We can always force a trade later and it would be reckless giving up guaranteed money now.”

With stars increasingly more likely to agree to extensions, we’ve seen fewer big names change teams as free agents as of late. In 2020, Gordon Hayward – coming off an injury-plagued stint in Boston – was the biggest star to join a new team as a free agent. This offseason, that honor may belong to 35-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry. And the list of free agents for 2022 isn’t exactly loaded with star power — James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, and Zach LaVine are the most noteworthy names, but Harden and Irving seem likely to agree to extensions this fall, and it’s possible Beal will too.

It wasn’t long ago that teams deliberately hoarded cap space in the hopes of making a run at star free agents, but that approach hasn’t really paid dividends during the last couple summers and is perhaps falling out of fashion.

“You are naive to think that the best way to build your roster is through free agency and not the draft and trades,” a Western Conference GM told Marks. “Preserving cap space and waiting for that next great player to become available will get you fired.”

As Marks notes, it remains to be seen whether this is a short-term trend or a sign of things to come, especially since we don’t know how certain rules could be tweaked in the next CBA. Still, given how many of 2022’s potential star free agents have already come off the board and how few teams project to have significant cap space next offseason, it doesn’t look like this trend will reverse in the immediate future.

Latest On NBA’s Updated Dates, Deadlines, Details

Virtually all of the NBA’s usual annual deadlines will have to be adjusted for the 2020/21 league year. In addition to the handful of new dates that we passed along this morning, many more adjustments have been reported over the course of the day. Here are several of the key ones:

  • The deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers to players who are eligible for restricted free agency will be November 19, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).
  • Virtually every traded player exception that had initially been set to expire in July will now expire on November 23 or November 24, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. That includes the Warriors‘ $17.2MM TPE, which expires on Nov. 23, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).
  • The deadline to waive a player and stretch his 2020/21 salary will be December 9, per Pincus (Twitter link). After that date (which is normally August 31), players who are waived can still have guaranteed salaries in 2021/22 and beyond stretched, but their ’20/21 cap figures will remain unchanged.
  • The deadline for teams to exercise third- and fourth-year 2021/22 options for players on rookie scale contracts will be December 29, tweets Pincus. This deadline usually falls at the end of October.
  • Free agents signed this offseason can’t be traded before February 6, while players who meet certain criteria (re-signed with their own over-the-cap team via Bird or Early Bird rights and got a raise of at least 20%) can’t be traded until March 3, per Pincus (Twitter link). These dates are typically December 15 and January 15.
  • February 23 will be the first day that teams can sign players to 10-day contracts, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The leaguewide salary guarantee date – normally January 10 – will be February 27 this season, tweets Pincus. A team that wants to avoid being on the hook for a guarantee will have to cut the player by February 24 so he clears waivers before the deadline.
  • Players will have to be waived on or before April 9 (not March 1) in order to retain playoff eligibility for a new team, tweets Pincus.
  • The 2020/21 league year will conclude on August 1 (instead of June 30), tweets Pincus. The 2021/22 league year will begin on August 2.

Here are a few more details on newly-announced adjustments for the 2020/21 season:

  • For initial waiver claim priority, the NBA will use the standings as of March 11, 2020, tweets Pincus. That means if a player hits waivers next week, the Warriors will have top claiming priority and the Bucks will be last on the list.
  • Instead of the usual 177 days, the NBA’s 2020/21 season will be 146 days, tweets Pincus. That means, for instance, that a player who signs a 10-day contract will receive 10/146ths of the minimum salary instead of 10/177ths.
  • Two-way players won’t be limited to 45 days on their NBA teams’ rosters this season, but they won’t be able to be activated for more than 50 games. They’ll receive salaries worth $449,155, per Pincus (Twitter link).

Trade Moratorium To Be Lifted At Noon ET Monday

The NBA is a little more than 24 hours away from allowing teams to start making trades, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Sources tell Woj that the moratorium will end at 12:00 pm eastern time on Monday, giving teams a small window to complete deals before Wednesday night’s draft.

The league has also established some important dates for the upcoming season, Wojnarowski adds, with opening night set for December 22 as expected (Twitter link). An All-Star break will take place from March 5-10, although no game will be played.

The regular season is projected to end between May 17 and 21 with a play-in tournament to determine seeds seven through 10. The conference semifinals will begin June 7, with the conference finals starting June 22 and the NBA Finals set for July 8-22. The trade deadline hasn’t been determined yet, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

The play-in tournament must be approved by the Board of Governors, but a source tells Wojnarowski that’s considered a formality (Twitter link). As with the series in Orlando between the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies, the No. 7 and 8 seeds will just need one win to advance, while the ninth and 10th seeds would have to win twice. May 17-21 are the tentative dates for the tournament.

As expected, this year’s salary cap ($109.1MM) and luxury tax figures ($132.6MM) will be maintained for next season (Twitter link). According to Woj’s sources, the early cap and tax projections for future seasons are $112.4MM and $136.6MM for 2021/22, $115.7MM and $140MM for 2022/23 and $119.2MM and $144.9MM for 2023/24 (Twitter link).

In addition, the league and its players union have reached a deal that either side can terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement after next season or the 2021/22 season, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Both sides already had a mutual option to terminate the CBA after the 2022/23 season.

December 21 will be the last day for players to sign super-max and rookie scale extensions, Marks tweets. That deadline is especially significant in Milwaukee, where the Bucks hope to reach a long-term deal with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Most player and team option decisions throughout the league will have to be made by 5:00 pm ET Thursday, a source tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). A prominent exception appears to be Anthony Davis of the Lakers, who may have to decide on his $28.75MM player option by Monday.

Team Owners Vote To Approve New CBA

This afternoon, NBA team owners unanimously voted to ratify the amended Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed upon late last night by the league and the NBPA, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The NBA’s Board of Governors, which is comprised of the 30 NBA team owners and their reps plus league commissioner Adam Silver, held a conference call this afternoon, and the agreement will now allow the 2020/21 season to kick off on December 22.

As we detailed earlier today, the updated CBA will contain the same $109,140,000 salary cap and $132,627,000 luxury tax line as the 2019/20 season. The ’20/21 season will last for 72 games, and free agency will kick off next Friday, November 20.

Currently, there is still a moratorium on trades, but that is expected to be lifted two or three days ahead of the November 18 draft. Luxury tax penalties will be reduced for taxpaying teams if the league’s basketball related income declines.

NBA, NBPA Agree To Amended CBA; Free Agency To Begin Nov. 20

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement on an amended Collective Bargaining Agreement in advance of the 2020/21 league year, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps. The league and union issued a press release confirming the news.

As a result of the agreement, free agency will begin on 6:00 pm eastern time on Friday, November 20, less than 48 hours after the November 18 draft. After a brief moratorium, signings will officially be permitted starting on Sunday, November 22 at 12:01 pm.

Here are several of the other highlights of the new deal:

  • As expected, the regular season will begin on December 22 and there will be a 72-game schedule. The full schedule will be released at a later date.
  • The salary cap will once again be $109,140,000 and the luxury tax line will be $132,627,000. Those are the same numbers as in 2019/20. As a result, figures like minimum and maximum salaries and mid-level/bi-annual amounts will remain the same.
  • The NBA will reduce the luxury tax bill of taxpaying teams at the end of 2020/21 season by the percentage amount that the league’s Basketball Related Income falls short of its initial projections.  For instance, a 30% decline in BRI would result in a 30% reduction of a taxpayer’s bill — say, from $10MM to $7MM. This should benefit projected taxpayers such as the Warriors, Nets, Celtics, and Sixers, among others.
  • The cap will increase by a minimum of 3% per year and a maximum of 10% per year through the rest of the current CBA. For 2021/22, that means the cap will be at least $112,414,200, and could be as high as $120,054,000.
  • The standard 10% of player salaries will continue to be held in escrow for the time being. Any necessary salary reductions will be spread out over next season and the following two seasons, but players can never have more than 20% of their salaries withheld in a single season.

The NBA’s transaction freeze remains in place for now, but the expectation is that it will be lifted early next week, perhaps two or three days before the November 18 draft, according to Bontemps and Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Once that freeze ends, teams will be permitted to formally finalize trades and other roster moves.

The league is also expected to soon announce new dates and deadlines for player/team option decisions, certain salary guarantees, qualifying offer decisions, and the expiration of trade exceptions.