About half the NBA’s owners and a number of big-name NBA players have descended upon New York for what will be a crucial bargaining session Friday (and with any success through the weekend). This is likely the last chance to save a full NBA season.
The negotiations are going to be intense. The primary issue remains how to split up basketball related income — never doubt this is about the money. Here at PBT, we broke that down earlier.
The secondary issue in these talks was the owners’ insistence on an NFL/NHL style hard salary cap. That was a “blood issue” for the players, they were not going to accept it (fearing it would lead to non-guaranteed contracts). The owners have backed off that demand but to do so have attached a number of strings, including restricting “Bird rights” (the ability to go over the salary cap to re-sign your own player) to one a year and shortening guaranteed contracts. Some are negotiable, some not.
• The institution of a sliding “Supertax” that would charge teams $2 in luxury tax for every dollar over $70 million in payroll, $3 for every dollar over $75 million in payroll and $4 for every dollar for teams with payrolls above $80 million
• Reducing the annual mid-level exception, which was valued at $5.8 million last season, to roughly $3 million annually and limiting mid-level contracts to a maximum of two or three seasons in length as opposed to the current maximum of five seasons
• A new “Carmelo Rule” that would prevent teams — as the New York Knicks did in February with Anthony — from using a Bird exception to sign or extend a player acquired by trade unless they are acquired before July 1 of the final season of the player’s contract
• The abolition of sign-and-trades and the bi-annual exception worth $2 million
The “Carmelo rule” would force teams to do what Utah did with Deron Williams — trading him a year out — or risk losing him for nothing.
Also on the table are things the players would fight for a long time, including salary rollbacks. But this is a list of things that are negotiable, some will be on and some will be off.
For the players, keeping guaranteed contracts (most in the NBA are) and a soft salary cap have been the priorities. To keep those things they are going to have to give in on some of the above.
It’s going to be an interesting weekend. We will see what the real priorities of both sides are.