News broke last night that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association had reached an agreement on terms for a new labor agreement. The tentative deal in place is huge for the league, the players and the fans since there will be no work stoppage.
The deal is not official yet and the two sides have agreed to extend the deadline to opt out of the current deal until next month. The deadline was extended in order to allow both parties the opportunity to formally ratify the deal.
Avoiding a lockout is a huge step forward for the league, which has seen two lockouts over the course of the last two labor negotiations. A lockout in 1998 shortened the season to 50 games and the most recent lockout in 2011 resulted in a 66-game season.
Details will emerge in the coming weeks on the specific additions to the new CBA, but we’re beginning to see some of the things that will be put into place. One item from the new deal to surface has been the reduction of preseason games, which will help lower the amount of back-to-back games.
Other changes include higher salaries for max-deal players, a “designated veteran” provision, the creation of a two-way contract and health care packages for retired players, among others. These new additions to the deal were broken down in greater detail last night by our own Steve Kyler.
The league and players made a concerted effort during these negotiations to reach this point. The two sides have been meeting frequently over the past several months in an attempt to avoid a lockout for a third-straight time.
As it typically goes with these sort of things, some players will be upset with the new deal, while others will be happy with it. Just after news of the agreement broke, Draymond Green voiced his frustration. “One day we will get it right…. Maybe,” Green tweeted.
DeAndre Jordan just wants to see a fair deal for both sides. While he didn’t necessarily voice frustration with the deal, he just made it known that he is with the players and wants to see each side taken care of. Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers joked that he’s upset he won’t get the summer off now for vacation, but said the agreement is absolutely wonderful news.
While Green appears to be upset with at least one item in the agreement, NBPA President Chris Paul was happy with how things played out. Paul has been active during the entire process and has stayed in contact with NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts throughout the course of the negotiations.
“I talked to her today before the game so I sort of knew,” Paul said. “She’s always trying to be so respectful of my time and making sure I’m focused on the game, which I am. I talked to James Jones before the game, too. He is my right-hand guy.
“We’re excited for the players, for the owners, but most of all for the fans. [We’re] also [happy] for the former players. This was such a huge deal for some of the things that we are [going] to provide for our former players and guys that have paved the way for us.”
As Paul told reporters last night in Orlando, the league’s former players stand to benefit from this new deal. The new agreement is said to provide health care packages for retired players and increase the benefits for those players still in the league. The league and union will co-fund a tuition reimbursement fund for those players as well.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports that the health insurance for retired players will begin on January 1, with every player logging at least three years of service becoming eligible for the program. In addition, pensions will increase by nearly 50 percent and payouts will start at age 50.
“Probably the thing I’m most excited about is what we’ve been able to do as far as health care and health insurance for our former players,” Paul said. “One thing we always say is that us as active players, at some point we’ll be former players, so it’s a real brotherhood with all of us that play now, and those guys that came before us, so it’s pretty special.”
Paul expressed that he was happy each group of players was represented at the table. He said there was a special committee formed, which comprised of max-level players, mid-level players and minimum-deal players. Each of those groups was vocal during the process, which made it a collective effort from the players.
The last two lockouts were clear evidence that those past negotiations did not run smoothly. In order to combat a possible work stoppage this time around, the two sides have been meeting for months in order to come to an agreement ahead of the opt-out deadline. Optimism that an agreement would be met before the deadline began growing as far back as October.
Owners and players have voiced their displeasure with a potential lockout and seemed motivated to avoid that possibility. The agreement in place is not official and still requires the owners and players to ratify the deal, but that is considered to be a formality at this point. Paul commended both sides for making this a smooth process.
“I think everyone negotiated in good faith,” Paul said. “The conversations were great. Everything was cordial. Everyone knows how well the game is doing, and nobody wanted to mess that up. My hat goes off to Adam [Silver] and his team, and the same thing on our side.”
Yesterday’s news is huge for the league moving forward. It prevents the possibility of a work stoppage and shows the two sides in the league can come together on pressing issues. Owners and players can rest easy knowing the bulk of the dirty work is now over.
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