WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery reported Thursday that the new CBA includes a $58.044 million salary cap, with a luxury tax level just over $70.3 million. This cap and luxury tax are identical to those of the 2010-11 season, and do not differ significantly from the last three seasons of the old CBA.
This nearly unchanged cap structure was most likely built to appease the players, who will lose about 6 percent of the hallowed Basketball Related Income. They will also have to take 12 percent salary reductions.
To balance the lost income, the new CBA contains several improvements to players’ earning power. Young players who achieve NBA superstardom qualify for higher maximum salaries, and team payrolls must now reach a higher minimum percentage – 85 percent for the next two seasons, 90 after – of the salary cap.
Teams will have an easier time reaching that minimum payroll, however, because the new CBA calls for greatly expanded revenue sharing starting in the 2013-14 season. NBA commissioner David Stern said some teams could receive as much as $20 million in shared revenue, and several teams could be paying up to $50 million from their local revenue sources.
NBA owners and NBA Players’ Association executive director Billy Hunter reached a tentative agreement Saturday that could end the class-action lawsuits, reform the NBPA and allow for an abbreviated, 66-game 2011-12 NBA season.
Should the players ratify, they will give up just over 6 percent of the vaunted Basketball Related Income. In return, their new collective bargaining agreement will, among other stipulations: improve qualifying offers for NCAA “starters” entering the NBA, increase the maximum salary for young players who finish their rookie contracts and re-sign with their old teams, and maintain player-controlled option years.
This new CBA would either improve on or at least maintain the current money-making possibilities available to both young players and veterans, so it’s unlikely that a workforce eager to return to work wouldn’t ratify and reform. That means the battle for the CBA is just about over.
The battle for the fans, however, has just begun.
This negotiation took far too long to reach the outcome that fans and the media knew was coming. For whatever reason, the NBA doesn’t make what the NFL or MLB does (and kudos to the MLB, by the way, for quickly and quietly reaching a new CBA). Players make too much, teams make too little, and some re-division was simply inevitable.
While both sides crawled towards the inevitable BRI re-splitting, fans were subjected to an ugly, hostile “negotiation.”
The NBA officially canceled games through December 15 on Tuesday, killing 26 percent of the season. The cancellation came on the same day that the NBPA decertified, with 15 players joining class-action antitrust lawsuits against the league.
With players seeking over $6 billion in damages, it would take a very player-favorable deal to get everyone back to the negotiating table. Meanwhile, every day that basketball isn’t played is another day where non-diehard basketball fans disgustedly give up on the NBA, possibly for good.
Of course, the NFLPA also decertified before a new CBA was finally agreed upon. But the animosity with which both sides have treated each other – the owners’ uncompromising demand for a significantly salary-capped league, the players’ uber-defensive unwillingness to believe their salaries might be dangerously overblown – makes this lockout far more hostile, and far more likely to cause irreparable damage to the NBA.
Because while billionaires and millionaires yell at each other over mere percentages, unemployed, angry, everyday Americans just decide to change the channel.