The NBA and its players have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, formalizing a deal that was tentatively agreed to earlier this month.
The sides announced the deal on Wednesday. It goes into effect in July and stretches through the 2029-30 season, though both sides have the option of ending it a year early.
It means the most financially successful era in NBA history will continue uninterrupted for at least six more years. Among the highlights: the addition of an in-season tournament that Commissioner Adam Silver has wanted for years, and about $160 million in team and league licensing revenue getting added annually to the total of basketball-related income that is split with the players.
Such income will remain a 50-50 split — but the pool will get bigger, which will add to player salaries.
Other changes coming in the new CBA include the elimination of marijuana from the list of banned substances, less invasive testing for performance-enhancing drugs, a slight drop in the percentage of salary players will lose when suspended for a game or more — and the assurance that even if revenues drop, the salary cap will not.
Officials from the NBA and the union spent more than a year negotiating this deal, coming to a tentative agreement in the early-morning hours of April 1. There were two final hurdles to clear — a vote by the NBA’s board of governors, and a vote by the members of the NBPA.
Those votes are now complete, and labor peace is assured. There has not been a labor stoppage in the NBA since the lockout in 2011, which lasted about 5 1/2 months and caused the 2011-12 season to be shortened from the customary 82 games to 66.
An item that was a top priority for the National Basketball Players Association was additional ability for players to be able to invest alongside team owners in other businesses outside the NBA, something that has been limited in the past. The rules regarding that will become more player-friendly.
The NBA considered what was called an upper-spending limit to curb teams that weren’t fearful of huge luxury tax bills, such as the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. The union wanted no part of that, so instead, the agreement was to add a second salary cap apron that will be roughly 134% of whatever that season’s salary cap is. Teams exceeding that line will get affected in different ways — among them, losing the ability to utilize certain exceptions to sign players.
Salaries will rise and should continue rising, with projections for the mid-level exception to reach anywhere from $15 million to $18 million as the starting point by the end of the deal — a massive jump from the $10.49 million this season. Top annual salaries for veterans with 10 or more years and commanding max deals could exceed $60 million a year.
A minimum number of games played in order to be eligible for NBA awards will go into effect as part of the CBA. In most circumstances, players will have had to appear in 65 games and play at least 20 minutes in those games to be eligible for awards; there are certain exceptions.
Also, a portion of revenue from fines issued by the league will go to the NBPA’s foundation going forward.
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