NBA players, owners have ratified new CBA, league says

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Saturday, December 24, 2016

NBA players and the league's board of governors ratified the new collective bargaining agreement this week, the league announced.

NBA owners approved the proposal on Wednesday and the players voted on Friday, per sources.

The new CBA will take effect on July 1, 2017, and its approval removes the possibility of a work stoppage at the end of the season. Either side will have the ability to opt out of the new agreement after the 2022-23 season, though the deal will technically extend through 2023-24.

The new agreement includes many features that will impact the landscape of the league.

Among them:

The league's average salary is expected to jump from the $5 million range to nearly $9 million annually, with significant jumps -- approximately 45 percent -- planned for rookie-scale deals, minimum-salary contracts and some free-agent exceptions, including the midlevel exception.

In addition to those planned hikes, sources said teams will have the ability to offer designated veteran star players contract extensions up to five seasons in length (and in some cases six seasons), greatly enhancing the ability of small-market teams to retain their best players. These extensions have been modeled after the NBA's designated player rookie extension rules.

This new aspect will greatly impact a player such as Warriors point guardStephen Curry, who is playing out the last year of a four-year, $44 million extension that he signed in October 2013. Sources told ESPN's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst that Curry will be eligible in July for a new deal that would be worth an estimated $207 million over five years, making it the richest contract in league history.

There will be no amnesty clause in the new CBA, sources say. There have been amnesty clauses in the past two CBAs, allowing teams to waive players and have their salaries removed from the salary cap.

The annual split of basketball-related income (BRI) between players and owners will remain at the current 51-49 percent, sources said. League sources familiar with the new deal say that it's highly likely that the players receive 51 percent of the BRI split due to higher projections for revenue. The NBA and NBPA are expected to provide specific details of the new agreement at a later date.

The early-entry age for the NBA draft will continue to be 19, with the stipulation that American players must also be one year removed from high school to be draft-eligible.

Maximum roster size, though, will rise from 15 to 17 players, with the extra slots earmarked for players on "two-way contracts," as seen in the NHL. Those contracts stipulate that a player's salary is based on the NBA minimum when the player is on an NBA roster and an estimated $75,000 when the player is on assignment in the NBA Development League.

Also, the new deal alters the "over-36 rule" to the "over-38" rule. Previously, teams could not sign players to four- or five-year contracts if the player turned 36 before Oct. 1 of one of the years of the deal. By moving the rule back two years, NBPA leader LeBron James is in position to sign a five-year contract in 2018 when he is 33 years old, sources told Windhorst.

The league's board of governors and the players voted this week based on a term sheet that outlined key points of the deal, the league said. Once the NBA and NBPA finish drafting the full agreement and then execute it, the league will officially release specific details of the pact.

Information from ESPN's Marc Stein, Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe was used in this report.