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If the current structure holds, the new NBA will look much like the old one, just smaller

Oct 30, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT

Washington Wizards v Chicago Bulls

The New York Times reported Saturday on several crucial details of the new CBA deal that’s currently being discussed. Basically, if the structure holds once either side gets its collective head out of its backside, these are the provisions that are already agreed upon. So if the players cave and give in to 50/50 or the owners elect for their first ever serious concession (fat chance of either), or if both sides would just agree to a 51-52 percent band on revenue, these are the elements that would be included in the NBA.

Go read the entire thing, then come back here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing else to do with a lockout Sunday.

Back? OK, great. Let’s begin with contract length.

Under the old deal, players re-signing with their old team for the max (or re-signing and then getting traded, as in the case of the Triad last summer) would receive a five-year deal with an option for a sixth. That’s been tightened to a five-year deal. I’m assuming that means a four-year deal with a player option for a fifth, but you never know. If you don’t return to your home and instead take the adventurous route, you’ll then be seeing a four-year deal. That’s pretty huge. Consider that the Bulls’ acquisition of Carlos Boozer would mean he’s only on the books for another three years, meaning he’s trade bait in two instead of another three. Contract lengths is a huge provision due to that being the best way for players to guarantee financial stability. The players giving up a year on these is no small element. It means less guaranteed money.

If you’ve been paying attention, you likely know all about the amnesty clause already. But the Times’ report that says the team can exercise it at any point during the life of the CBA is gigantic. Example? You know that fancy new extension Tony Parker agreed to this year? Consider that if Tim Duncan retires at the end of his current contract and Manu decides to head back home after Duncan retires, forfeiting his final year through retirement, Parker will still be on the books for $25 million guaranteed over another two seasons. The amnesty clause mans that teams can finish up their run with their current core, then cut ties and rebuild. And if you want a totally insane scenario? Consider that the Heat could look at the 2012 free agency class and elect to amnesty Chris Bosh, freeing up money to spend on Deron Williams, Chris Paul, or Dwight Howard. That’s not going to happen, but it’s a nice example of what could happen. The Bulls freeing up Boozer once his production plummets in a few years is another example. Getting to hold on to that amnesty is a really big deal.

The stretch exception is more clearly defined, as outlined by the Times‘ Howard Beck:

Stretch exception: Teams will be permitted to stretch out payments to waived players, spreading out the cap hit, over several seasons. The payment schedule will be set by doubling the years left on the contract and adding one. (Thus a team waiving a player with two years left could pay him over five years.)

via N.B.A. Deal Is Close, but Last Hurdle Is a Big One – NYTimes.com.

If you’re keeping score, and if I’m doing the math right, if the Magic were to amnesty Gilbert Arenas and then stretch exception Hedo Turkoglu, his nearly $23 million guaranteed (he has a non-guaranteed $12 million salary in 2013-2014) salary over the next two years would be extended over the next five (2+2+1: it’s like that movie “Clue”). So instead of paying and getting hit with over $11 million each of the next two seasons, the Magic would be paying less than the projected mid-level exception of $5 million in salary and cap hit to get rid of Turkoglu. This kind of flexibility would do much of the same work the amnesty will do in terms of helping teams recover faster.

There are other details on the MLE and the structure of raises, but in reality, the biggest remaining piece of news is the luxury tax. The Times reports that the two sides have agreed on the tax structure. The basic tax for being over the threshold rises to $1.50 for every dollar over the line, then progressively higher as the amount over the threshold rises. It’s a pretty decent solution, allowing teams to spend if they want (for example, the Los Angeles Lakers can more than afford to pay the 3-to-1 dollar tax with their new television deal. There will still be payers, just not as many and you’ll have to really want to.

It’s an exciting set of provisions which could help make teams better over the course of the next six or seven years, depending on the length of the deal. Of course, the management in those teams will still have to make better decisions, the players will still have to play, and we have to a friggin’ deal first. Other than that, gold, Jerry, gold!

  1. santolonius - Oct 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    pbt writers, with these facts in mind could you please do a post analyzing one level deeper… will the nba be a more favorable landscape for the chum of league? fans of two-thirds of these teams are wondering, will this negotiation bring me the legitimate hopes of a contender? or is it going to still be rich teams and preordained free-agent superteams that split all the championships? i’d really like to know more. if it is just going to be lakers, celtics, heat, mavs and knicks going forward (watch what happens to okc and new orleans when those guys hit free agency – just watch!) then i am done already.

  2. trueballs - Oct 30, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    although this process has been a mess, I’m pretty happy with the system changes so far.

    The mid-level is basically the same (5 mil instead of 5.8).
    The luxury tax is OK.
    Contract lengths are a little more manageable for owners…and will help rebuilding (nets, pacers, sixers, pistons. were contenders in the early 2000s, but are just now getting more cap space to try and contend again).

    But I think it’s fair to say that this whole CBA was about the owners. Like Rashard Lewis said…if someone gives you a contract for 120 million are you really going to say “No thank you…I think I’m only worth 100 mil.” The players essentially did nothing wrong…I think they deserve at least 51.5%

    • jrhall888 - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:35 AM

      Gotta agree. It’s unfair to make the players pay for poor decisions made by management. If I were doing the negotiating with the players, I’d make at least the big contracts more incentive based. If the player produces, he gets the big bucks. If he doesn’t, he gets a contract more in line with what he’s added to the team. If I were a player that was confident in my abilities, I’d like the incentive based contract.

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