by Carlos Nazario
After 149 days of yelling, finger wagging, threats and lost hope, the NBA players and owners have come to an agreement to save the season, albeit a short one.
The season will officially begin around December 9th, after the players’ union is reformed and the CBA ratified by them and the owners. Free agency looks to start the same day, but there is word that teams may start to talk to free agents before that date. If you thought it was crazy when the NFL started free agency, you are in for the frenzy to end all frenzies!
The regular season will begin on Christmas Day, with a triple-header. The Boston Celtics will travel to New York to play the Knicks. Then the Miami Heat play at Dallas, in a matchup of last season’s NBA Finals. Finally, the Chicago Bulls with defending MVP Derrick Rose travel to play Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
In this shortened season of only 66 games, there will be some back-to-back-to-back games. Each team will play at least one stretch, while some will play 2 to 3 of them. The regular season would then end on April 26th, with the playoffs starting April 28th. Also, in the second round of the playoffs, each team will play back-to-back games to speed things up.
So what are some key details to the new deal? Well, this deal is due to last 10 years, though either side could opt out of the deal in 2017. One thing to remember about this is that the television contracts are up in 2016 and the NBA expects a big infusion of money with a new television contract. Look for us to go through this again in 2017.
The players will receive 51.15% of the basketball related income (BRI) in the first year of the agreement. In later years it will fluctuate from 49% to 51%. This is where the owners won big. They will save $300 million in salaries they will not have to pay, and make $3 billion more than in the previous agreement.
The players did win a bit with minimum salaries teams must spend. In the previous agreement, teams could spend as low as 75% of the salary cap. The amount is now 85% in the first 2 years, and 90% in the years afterwards. This will benefit fans as well, since there will be more competitive teams in the league now.
The owners wanted a hard salary cap but got the next best thing: a more punitive system for teams above the luxury tax threshold. Without going into dizzying details, I will give you an example.
In the old agreement, last year the Los Angeles Lakers had to pay $19.9 million in luxury tax. Under this new agreement, they will have to pay $44.68 million. If they are a repeat offender, that is, over the threshold for 4 of the last 5 seasons, then that bill increases to $64.58 million. This will greatly benefit the lower market teams who can now compete better for big name free agents.
There is also one little tidbit. There is now a “Derrick Rose” rule. Players under rookie contracts have an opportunity to earn a higher salary if they are out playing their contract. If a player is named to an All-NBA Team (1st, 2nd, or 3rd team) twice, or be voted NBA All Star Game starter twice, or be named Most Valuable Player, he can earn 30% of the salary cap instead of the 25% they get now. Rose, with 2 All Star Game selections, an All-NBA selection, and of course the MVP will be the first one to get that added bonus.
So there you have it, another season is upon us, even if it is late. We can have our dunks, fast breaks, and three pointers again. How much did this squabble cost the players and owners? They lost $400 million due to lost games. Not to mention some of the fans who will not return, and most of them who will but not with the same vigor. It took a couple of years for baseball to recover after its last strike; we will see how long it takes the NBA. One thing most fans are united about, however, IT’S TIME TO MAKE FUN OF LEBRON AGAIN!