May 12, 2011, 10:00 AM EST
When the owners submitted their new proposal to the players at the end of last month, they said they had heard the players concerns and made concessions.
Apparently, that big concession is to phase in a hard salary cap over two years rather than just drop it on everyone next year, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. That’s not much of a concession, but there you go.
Sources told ESPN.com this week that the central change made by owners to past collective bargaining proposals called for easing in a more restrictive financial landscape over a three-season cycle as opposed to trying to impose a hard salary ceiling with immediate effect next season.
The league, sources said, regards this as a major concession, since the next two seasons would employ a salary-cap system with luxury-tax penalties not unlike the system currently in place…
Sources said the owners’ latest proposal, however, does still call for immediate rollbacks of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent to current contracts depending on salary levels, as part of the league’s oft-stated desire to reduce payroll by roughly $800 million leaguewide on an annual basis.
If you want to know what are the two words that could cost the NBA all of next season, they are “hard cap.” If you want to make it four words, add “salary rollbacks.”
The owners remain insistent on those things.
The owners want an NFL style salary cap — the number is the number. Whatever it is you can’t go over it. The players an their union want a system closer to what exists now with a “soft cap” a team can exceed if it chooses to, but it would pay a penalty in terns of a dollar-for-dollar tax. This season, the Lakers will pay about $21 million in that tax, the Mavericks $20 million. About seven or eight teams will pay the tax (a couple of teams are right at the line and if they do pay it will be little).
The new proposal also calls for non-guaranteed contracts and a type of franchise tag that would offer great incentives to a player to stay with his current team. How well that would work in a hard cap world is a good question (right now teams can exceed the cap to keep their own players).
What does this report really mean?
Savor these playoffs. It’s going to be a long time before we see NBA basketball again.
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