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In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the National Basketball Players Association and team owners came to a tentative agreement to end the NBA Lockout.
After a 15 hour negotiation session high ranking officials Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter, David Stern, Adam Silver, Maurice Evans, and Peter Holt emerged to address the press. For the first time since the lockout began on July 1, 149 days ago, they were able to deliver encouraging news.
The season is set to begin on December 25 with a triple header, possibly featuring the teams that were originally scheduled to play on Christmas. The matchups include the New York Knicks vs the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks vs the Miami Heat, and the Chicago Bulls vs the Los Angeles Lakers.
This would be the start of a compressed 66 game season. Training camps would start December 9 with a two week free agency also starting on December 9. While details are still fuzzy as to how this agreement was reached, what is known is that compromises were made by both sides.
The players are set to receive a 49 and 51 “band” percent of basketball related income (BRI), down from the 57 percent that they received under the last collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The players could lose almost 200 million dollars over the 10 years that deal is scheduled for.
The players’ cut is on a sliding scale based on league performance. If BRI exceeds projections, the players receive 60.5 percent of that incremental revenue. If BRI fails to meet projections, the players receive 60.5 percent less of the amount by which BRI falls short. The players’ BRI range can never fall below 49 percent or go above 51 percent.The players did gain some ground in the negotiations as both sides agreed not to institute a hard salary cap.
With the exclusion of hard salary caps, one monumental issue where clarity is still lacking is the exactly how the luxury tax system is going to work under the new CBA. The luxury tax is in place to punish teams that exceed the salary cap by forcing teams to pay the NBA one dollar for every dollar that a team has gone over the limit. The tax also serves as a deterrent to prevent teams with deep pockets from buying all the available talent and ensure fair competition.
However, it has failed to produce positive results, as teams like the Los Angeles Lakers were 30 million over the cap last year. There is speculation that the new luxury tax would force teams to pay up a 3-1 ratio for every dollar they go over the cap. At a 3-1 ratio the punishment would be far harsher and encourage the fair play that small market teams have clamored over for years.
While all of this news seems encouraging, there is no guarantee that the season will actually start on Christmas. There are still important issues that need to be hammered out and voted on by the membership of both parties. Fans of the NBA can only hope that both sides can truly reach an agreement and give the best Christmas present of all.