A deal has finally, formally been reached: The NBA season will start on Dec. 22. It will be proceeded by an intense and compressed free agency that will start Nov. 20, with the salary cap remaining flat with last season at $109 million.
How did NBA players react to the deal to start the NBA season? It’s about the best anyone could expect, several sources told NBC Sports.
The league’s broadcast partners set the terms — the Dec. 22 start to get games on Christmas Day, and ending before going head-to-head with the Tokyo Olympics starting July 23 next year — or they would have to open up the television contracts and talk adjustments. That was too much money for players and owners to risk losing.
Players and agents gave basically the same response to Michael Scotto at Hoopshype.
“We had no real choice,” one NBA veteran with over a decade of experience told HoopsHype. “I’m glad it’s still at $109 million. We have to be good partners, and the TV networks needed this. It only affects the last four teams in terms of turnaround but could have an effect on free agency with camp being on Dec. 1. Teams will be signing players during camp.”
“No one is passing up that money,” one player entering a contract season told HoopsHype. “It’s better than $90 million [the salary cap number if the league had not adjusted and smoothed it]. As long as guys are in a similar range, everybody is relatively protected, and we can make large amounts of money.”
“The $109 million salary cap will cause a hit for the middle class a bit,” the agent told HoopsHype. “Clubs will try to put as many veterans as possible on the minimum or mid-level exception. Agents will try for short-term deals in order to play the market when the league is back on solid footing.”
It’s not ideal, but what is in 2020?
The players will have the usual 10% escrow taken out of their checks this year, but that likely goes up — to as high as 20% — the next two years, depending on how much the league misses revenue projections by this coming season. Everyone knows this will be a tough financial season for the league, with 10 fewer games (72) and fans not filling the buildings. The hope is to make as much money as possible and get back on the usual October-to-June schedule with full buildings for the 2021-22 season.
Everyone seems on board with that plan, even if that means a rushed free agency and run-up to the start of this NBA season, leading into a condensed season that could see more injuries than normal. It’s all about getting the most money possible for all sides.