The NBA and NBPA have agreed on the new collective bargaining agreement that will guide the Association forward. Here’s how it could affect your favorite team.
The NBA collective bargaining agreement doesn’t really exist to casual fans. It affects every single thing about NBA teams, but knowledge of it is not necessary to enjoy watching LeBron James dominate an entire NBA Finals, or to watch and enjoy any team for that matter.
For those wanting to really understand the framework of the NBA, the CBA is important. Smart teams use every last detail of the CBA to put together their rosters in the most efficient way possible.
The details have changed now that there is a new CBA. As soon as Larry Coon is able to create a new CBA FAQ for the updated version, that will become the new place to go for questions on how salary cap and other rules work.
For now, details are slowly emerging on how the new agreement works. It doesn’t take effect until July, meaning there are still months of roster transactions to be made under the old CBA.
To get an idea of how different things could be going forward, this list contains six of the most important aspects of the new CBA that have been reported thus far.
Designated Veteran Player Exception
The designated veteran player exception is a new concept that only applies to players with between seven and nine years of NBA experience. It’s essentially a tool that allows those players to get paid the max any player can make–35 percent of the salary cap.
Before the DVPE, only 10-plus year veterans could make that much. Players with seven to nine years of experience could get 30 percent, and players with zero to six years of experience could get 25 percent.
Much like the five-year, 30 percent rule (more often known as the Derrick Rose rule), the DVPE allows a player to move up a bracket.
The requirements are easier than the Rose rule was–a player needs to be on an All-NBA team or win Defensive Player of the Year or Most Valuable Player the year before signing the deal.
Two All-NBA teams or DPOYs or one MVP in the three years prior to the deal being signed also qualifies a player for the DVPE. It’s a five-year contract and must either be a re-signing or an extension on an existing deal.
The catch is this: only players on the team that drafted them or traded on their rookie deals qualify. The point is to stop super teams like the Golden State Warriors from assembling by providing an incentive to star players to remain with the team that drafted them.
One last note–according to this rundown of the new rules at HeatHoops, the rules for the DPE (the extension/new deal for players coming off of their rookie deal) have been updated to match the DVPE rules.
That means those young guys could end up making more money in the contract before they qualify for the DVPE.
The Rose rule was hard to qualify for–it required multiple accolades that were tough to notch during a rookie deal. One All-NBA team is no easy feat, but these new rules should see more star players eligible for early paydays.
The Luxury Tax Apron
For teams that already have their stars, changes to the luxury tax apron are very important. Once a team uses one of a few cap exceptions, such as the mid-level exception to sign a player while over the cap, they are barred from exceeding the tax apron.
In past years, the apron was $4 million above the tax line. Teams had $4 million to play with if they were over the tax, but if they used the bi-annual exception, mid-level exception or a sign-and-trade transaction during the season they were hard-capped at the apron.
Now that figure is $6 million instead. That may sound inconsequential, but the hard cap can be tough to get around for teams short on cash. Even minimum contracts are not allowed for hard-capped teams if it would push them over the apron.
That $2 million will end up mattering for some teams, like the Warriors, who need every last dollar they can get when trying to assemble a roster around a core of stars.
It’s a small recompense considering how much those teams will have to pay to keep their stars, but this is something in the new CBA to help teams out slightly.
Lots of changes are coming to how trades work in the NBA.
Previously, players with big cap figures, but small amounts of guaranteed money, were vital trade chips, because the big figure could be used to make a deal happen, followed by the team simply releasing the player at little to no actual cost.
Salaries still have to match in the new CBA, but now the figure used is the guaranteed money. That will affect how some trades happen, although truthfully most NBA deals are for guaranteed money, unlike some other leagues (cough-NFL-cough.)
Also, the amount of cash teams can trade has gone up. That might not end up mattering too much, but teams can now trade $5.1 million per year instead of $3.6 million, starting in the 2017-18 NBA season.
The salary-matching rules are still relatively the same, aside from the guaranteed money switch. Some of the figures have changed slightly, but the gist is that non-taxpaying teams still have some leeway, although guaranteed salaries will still need to match.
More Money, More Problems (For Teams)
The star players in the NBA will be seeing significant raises, but every player will find ways to make more money.
Minimum salary deals and rookie scale contracts will both see boosts to go along with the rising salary cap, and even rookies taken in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NBA drafts will get extra money, although it won’t be reflected on the cap.
The real important part that will affect all new contracts is the difference in annual raises. Previously all deals were subject to 4.5 percent raises. Players with Bird rights (who had been on the same team long enough) were able to get 7.5 percent raises each year.
Technically the 4.5 and 7.5 percent marks could be used to go up or down, actually, but typically they were raises. Anyway, now the figures are 5 and 8 percent, respectively. That means max deals will be worth more, even if the cap were to stay exactly the same.
Finally, old players will make out nicely from the Over 36 rule shifting to become the Over 38 rule.
The Over 36 rule meant players who would turn 36 during the life of a four- or five-year deal would lose money–it was a complicated way around older players signing long-term deals and using the latter years as retirement money.
Now the age limit has been pushed back two years, which as HeatHoops notes mainly will benefit Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in the short term.
The NBA has been working on making the D-League more of an official minor league and this new CBA reflects that. Two-way contracts will be introduced, deals that allow players to easily switch from playing on a franchise’s D-League team from the NBA club, and vice versa.
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Players on two-way deals will be paid game checks from a $75,000 contract while in the D-League, and from an NBA minimum deal while with the major league team.
These players can only be on the NBA team for a maximum of 45 days, with the assumption being if they’re up in the NBA for longer than that they’ll have to sign NBA minimum deals.
In addition, NBA teams will have two extra roster spots for such players, meaning a team could have 15 NBA contracted players and two two-way contracted players.
Finally, one last roster rule: the minimum has raised from 13 to 14 players. Teams must have at least 14 players on their roster at all times. And if the league as a whole averages less than 14.5 players on rosters for a season, the limit will increase to 15.
That will be an interesting development to keep track of as the years go by under this new CBA.
Less Preseason, More Regular Season
Finally, one of the more refreshing changes has to do with the preseason. After much complaining about the unnecessary nature of preseason games, the new CBA cuts down on the preseason by a week and uses that week for NBA games instead.
This should cut down further on back-to-backs and will hopefully lead to less rest across the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers sitting LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies was a big story.
With fewer back-to-backs, NBA fans might see fewer “DNP-rest” marks on box scores. Either way, cutting back on back-to-backs and stretches of four games in five nights will be good for the league.
There could be more interesting wrinkles yet to come out of the new CBA, and we’ll keep our eyes on each and every development as they happen to make sure of what exactly will be changing when the new collective bargaining agreement kicks in in July.
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