Collective Bargaining Agreement

League, Union Formally Discuss One-And-Done Rule

Draft eligibility rules have been a topic of conversation between the NBA and the Players Association, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes, and earlier today league commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts went so far as to formally speak with the government’s Commission on College Basketball in Washington, D.C.

The commission – which includes executives, retired players and political figures – was formed in the wake of recent FBI investigations regarding corruption.

The meeting between the three parties is said to have been strictly informational in nature and, ultimately, what the NBA decides to do with regard to incoming players is up to the league and the player’s union.

As Wojnarowski writes, there’s a growing belief that Silver seeks to end the one-and-done rule implemented by his predecessor in 2005. In order for such a change to happen though, the union would potentially need to accept a mandate declaring that players who do choose to enter college would be obligated to stay for two years prior to declaring for the draft.

Silver has previously said publicly that the current one-and-done rule isn’t working for the college game.

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

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.

Trades:

  • 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.

NBPA Publishes New Collective Bargaining Agreement

The National Basketball Players Association has published the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement on its website, making the entire 598-page document available for public consumption. You can find it right here, alongside the previous CBA.

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t go into effect for about five more months, but teams will be looking ahead to determine how the changes to the league’s rules will affect them, beginning on July 1.

Leading up to July, we’ll be updating several of our Hoops Rumors Glossary entries to reflect the changes in this CBA. We’ll also publish entirely new glossary entries on features that are new to this CBA, such as the designated veteran extension or two-way contracts.

In the meantime, we’ve recapped most of the notable changes to the CBA over the last month and a half, so be sure to check out our CBA news archive to brush up on those changes. And if you feel so inclined, you can tackle the full CBA document via the NBPA’s site — be warned though, even the table of contents is 22 pages long!

New CBA Officially Signed By Both Sides

The NBA and the Players Association have signed the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to an official league press release.  The seven-year agreement will take effect on July 1, 2017, and run through the 2023/24 season.

Both the NBA and NBPA have the ability to opt out of the CBA after the 2022/23 season by providing notice to the other party by December 15th, 2022.

According to the release, here are some key points:

  • The players’ share of Basketball Related Income (BRI) will remain in the 49%-51% range.
  • Existing rules on maximum free agent contract length will be retained.
  • The Mid-Level Exceptions and Bi-Annual Exception for 2017/18 will be increased 45% from the amounts in the 2011 CBA.
  • The Rookie Scale will also be increased 45%, with the increase phased in over three years.
  • The 2017/18 Minimum Annual Salary Scale will increase minimum salaries for that season by 45%. The revised amounts will increase or decrease annually beginning in 2018/19 at the same rate as the salary cap.
  • The 2017/18 limit on cash paid or received in trades will be increased from $3.6MM to $5.1MM,
  • Most veteran extensions will be permitted to cover five total years.
  • The moratorium period when free agents cannot be signed has been shortened and will now end each season on July 6. The salary cap and tax level will be set each season by June 30.
  • The period for a team with a right of first refusal to match an offer sheet will be shortened from three days to two days.
  • A player will be able to sign an offer sheet during the moratorium period.
  • The July 23 deadline for a team to unilaterally withdraw a qualifying offer will be changed to July 13.
  • The 150% Traded Player Exception for non-taxpaying teams will be increased to 175%.
  • The Over-36 Rule will be modified to be an Over-38 Rule.
  • Teams will be required to carry 14 players on their rosters, subject to the ability to carry fewer players for limited periods of time.
  • Each NBA team will be permitted to have on its roster up to two players under “Two-Way Contracts.” A “Two-Way Player” will provide services primarily to the NBA team’s D-League affiliate.
  • The period for training camp and the preseason will be shortened by seven days, and the maximum number of exhibition games per team prior to any regular season will be reduced to six from eight.

NBA To Offer Medical Benefits To Retired Players

The NBA will be the first professional sports league to offer medical benefits to its retired players, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com reports. The benefits will be part of a comprehensive and enhanced retirement package for former players. Youngmisuk adds that both the owners and the NBPA were unanimous on the decision to take care of retired players.

After the passing of Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone, commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts agreed that something had to be done in regards to helping retired players maintain their good health.

“[Malone’s and Dawkins’ deaths] sent shock waves through the whole basketball universe,” said Dwight Davis, the vice chairman for the National Basketball Retired Players Association. “Some of the deaths of retired players could have been avoidable because guys didn’t have insurance and weren’t doing yearly checkups.”

Davis added that the new health insurance plan will provide much needed financial relief to many retired players. “Some of my younger counterparts are guys in their 40s, some of those guys are paying $30,000 a year for health insurance for themselves and families because of preexisting injuries. The abuse our bodies take, it is hard to get affordable insurance as a retired player,” Davis continued.

Michael Jordan was a key advocate of providing benefits to retired players, as were current stars, such as Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

“I’ve said it a number of times: the biggest thing is the health insurance that we got for some of our former players and stuff like that,” said Paul, who is the president of the players’ union’s executive committee. “No question. That was a huge priority. Well, I mean, it was a huge priority to keep the game going, first and foremost, for the fans. But at some point, one time or another, everybody out here is going to be a former player. You know what I mean? I think that shows how connected we are as a body of NBA players.”

The NBA and the players’ union will jointly fund a new health insurance plan, an education/career development program and the increases in pension benefits for retired players. The pensions for former players will increase by as much as $300 per month and players with at least 10 years of service will be eligible to receive health care coverage for themselves as well as their family, Youngmisuk adds. Retired players will also be eligible for tuition reimbursement and career transition programs.

“You have to look at the different decades, and you look at guys who are in their 40s, guys who have been away from the league for 10-15 years,” Davis said. “They were not making an average of $5 million a year like some of the guys now, and if you have a significant medial issue, a heart problem or organ problem, like the average American, you can become bankrupt.”

Prior to this new package, retired players received a pension from the league, but did not receive health insurance. The new CBA provides this benefit for retired players, but also includes includes other changes to the NBA landscape. Check out our CBA news archive for the latest updates on the new labor deal.

Players Ratify New CBA

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement is now official after the players voted to approve it, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports (Twitter link). Earlier in the week, the NBA Owners unanimously voted to approve the agreement, which left the players’ vote as the last step needed in order to ratify the new deal.

The votes from both sides were always considered a formality since the parties agreed to the term sheet earlier in the month. The new agreement will become effective on July 1, 2017.

For details on the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, including changes to rules surrounding trades, contract extensions, free agency, and more, be sure to check out our CBA news archive, where we’ve been rounding up new updates as they’re reported.

NBA Sets Up Panel For Life-And-Death Cases

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement will include an independent medical panel to handle potential life-and-death cases like the one involving Chris Bosh, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

Bosh’s dispute with the Heat is problematic because the league has no uniform policy regarding blood clots and no process to adjudicate medical disputes where a player’s life may be in jeopardy.

According to Beck, when a player is declared medically unfit, his case can be brought before the panel by his team, the league or the players association. The panel will have the power to prevent him from playing in the NBA if it decides his condition is life-threatening.

However, if the panel sides with the player, it could give his team a deadline to either play him, trade him or waive him. All decisions of the panel will be considered final, with no appeal process set up.

The panel was established to prevent other players from falling into a situation like Bosh, whose career has been in limbo since failing a physical before training camp. Bosh hasn’t played since the All-Star break last season, when doctors discovered blood clots in his calf. It was the second straight season for Bosh that was cut short by blood clots.

Bosh had hoped to resume his career this season, and posted a series of videos on his website during the summer to demonstrate his health. However, “evidence of continued clotting” was found during the September physical and Bosh was not cleared to participate in camp. He remains under contract, but the Heat are expected to petition the league for a medical exclusion, which they can do beginning Feburary 9th, one year since his last game. If it is granted, the Heat can waive Bosh and wipe his final two years of salary –worth more than $52MM — off their cap.

NBA Owners Unanimously Approve New CBA

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement has taken one step closer to becoming official, according to Jon Krawczynski and Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, who report that NBA team owners have voted to approve the tentative agreement. Per the AP duo, the vote among owners was unanimous.

With the owners officially on board, the players will need to cast their ballots before the deal can formally be ratified. Two people with knowledge of the situation tell Krawczynski and Reynolds that the players are expected to finish voting in the coming days, with one source suggesting it could happen by Friday.

The votes from the NBA and the NBPA are viewed as a formality, since both sides are in agreement on the term sheet that was put together earlier this month. Once the two sides officially vote to approve the deal, that term sheet will provide the framework for the official Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will still need to be written up. The deal is expected to be formally completed before the January 13 deadline, and will go into effect for the 2017/18 league year.

[RELATED: NBA, Players’ Union Reach Agreement On New CBA]

For details on the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, including changes to rules surrounding trades, contract extensions, free agency, and more, be sure to check out our CBA news archive, where we’ve been rounding up new updates as they’re reported.

New CBA Grandfathers Harden, Westbrook For New Extensions

The new CBA will not allow for players to sign contract extensions in back-to-back offseasons, but the agreement will include a provision that will allow James Harden and Russell Westbrook to do exactly that, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports. The new labor agreement will grandfather Harden and Westbrook into the pool of players eligible to be designated for the super-max contracts by their respective teams.

Both players signed contract extensions this past offseason, but the league and the union agreed that neither player – nor the Rockets or Thunder – should be penalized for operating within the current framework, as the teams and players were not aware that the new CBA would offer such a benefit for waiting just one more season.

Westbrook could sign a five-year, $219MM extension with the Thunder that would begin in the 2018/19 season, according to Wojnarowski. Harden could sign with the Rockets for an additional four years and $171MM on top of the $58.7MM he is set to receive over the next two seasons.

Wojnarowski hears that out of the two players, Westbrook is more likely to sign another extension this summer. Harden may prefer to wait until closer to the end of his current deal to gauge whether or not Houston is able to truly become a title contender.

Harden’s current deal includes a player option for the 2019/20, meaning he could become an unrestricted free agent during the 2019 offseason. At that time, Harden will be entering his 10th year in the league, which is another reason he needed to be grandfathered as an eligible player. The new Designated Player Veteran Exception rule covers players entering their eighth or ninth years of service, per Wojnarowski.

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