The NBA and the NBA Players Association continue to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement, according to league sources.
While sources maintained there is still plenty of work in order to come to an agreement, there is widespread optimism a deal will be reached in the coming weeks. Doing so would eliminate the possibility of a work stoppage next summer and continue the strong momentum the league has generated over the past few seasons.
As the Vertical first reported, both sides have agreed to maintain the same split of basketball related income (BRI), which currently is in a band of 49 to 51 percent, a major factor for optimism about the state of talks thus far. With a fight over money out of the way, the two sides have been able to focus on other parts of a potential agreement, including reworking extension rules, possible changes to the NBA’s Development League and raising rookie contracts and salary cap exceptions.
Both sides have the ability to opt out of the current agreement Dec. 15, and, if either does and a new agreement isn’t in place by July 1, there would be a work stoppage for the first time since the NBA had a shortened season in 2011. Given the tenor of negotiations at the moment, however, it would be far more likely that a new agreement is in place before Dec. 15 than there is another work stoppage next summer.
Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, the president of the players’ association, flew across the country after Tuesday’s game in Sacramento to attend a round of negotiations this week — one of many signs the sides are progressing toward a deal being reached.
Considering how successful the league has been in recent seasons, it would be foolish for either side to risk stunting the momentum the league has created with the possibility of a work stoppage. This summer saw the salary cap push north of $90 million for the first time — up from $58 million when the league came back from its last work stoppage in December 2011 — because of the massive new television deal the league agreed to with ESPN and Turner Sports taking effect.
Meanwhile, interest in the league has never been stronger, thanks in part to the rise of the Golden State Warriors — and that was before the team added Kevin Durant in free agency this summer. The NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were a ratings bonanza last June, and with both teams expected to reach the Finals again next season, the league could be in for an even bigger television spectacle for next year’s series.
Besides expected changes such as more money for rookies and some changes to the salary cap exceptions, the biggest long-term changes for the league could involve the D-League, which is expected to jump to 30 teams within the next few years — meaning every NBA team will employ one.
One possibility that’s been discussed is the potential for two-way contracts, much like they have in baseball and hockey, where teams could move players back and forth from the D-League to the active roster to allow them as much developmental time as possible. Having 30 D-League teams would also allow players to be signed to those individual teams controlled by their parent NBA teams; now, a player signed directly to the D-League can be called up by any of the 30 NBA teams.
These, and the other issues being discussed, however, are all minor ones compared with a battle over BRI, which is the reason the league didn’t come to an agreement during negotiations in 2011 until the day after Thanksgiving, resulting in a 66-game shortened season that started that Christmas. With that out of the way, maintaining labor peace is now within reach.