League to announce agreement before Game 6ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- NBA owners and players agreed to a new collective-bargaining agreement Tuesday, averting the possibility of a lockout.
The league called a news conference Tuesday afternoon in San Antonio before Game 6 of the NBA Finals, with commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter set to announce their agreement, ESPN Insider Chad Ford has confirmed.
The deal came on the fourth consecutive day of talks between the sides. The league's old seven-year agreement is due to expire on June 30.
Another lockout could have begun July 1.
The new six-year deal would implement a number of rules changes, several of which were principally agreed to on Monday night, according to Ford.
The highlights of the agreement include:
Notable active players who weren't 19 when drafted:
Jermaine O'Neal 1996 1 (17)
Kobe Bryant 1996 1 (13)
Tracy McGrady 1997 1 (9)
Al Harrington 1998 1 (25)
LeBron James 2003 1 (1)
Dwight Howard 2004 1 (1)
Others under 19 on draft night: Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Darius Miles and Josh Smith.
• A 19-year-old age minimum OR one year out of high school would be implemented for entry into the NBA draft, ESPN's Ric Bucher reports. Players who are not 19 by draft night would be ineligible to declare for the draft. Under current rules, American players are eligible for the draft the year their high school class graduates. Foreign players must be 18 by draft night.
• Contract lengths would be reduced one year. Currently, players can sign a fully guaranteed contract for a maximum of seven years if they re-sign with their current team. Players signing with a new team in free agency can sign a six-year deal. Under the new proposal, maxiumum contract lengths would shorten to five years for players signing with new teams and six years for players re-signing with their current team.
• Raises in contracts would be reduced. Under the current CBA, players are allowed maximum raises of 12.5 percent per year if they re-sign with their current team and 10 percent if they sign with a different team in free agency. Under the new proposal, raises would be reduced to 10 percent if a player re-signs with his current team and 8 percent if he signs with a different team in free agency.
• Under the revamped drug policy, all players could be randomly tested four times each season.
It was not immediately clear if several other elements, which had been proposed Monday night, were included in Tuesday's agreement.
If the proposal from Monday night were to be ratified in its entirety, the new CBA also would dictate:
• Teams would pick up an extra option year on rookie contracts. Currently, first-round picks are tied into a league salary scale. When a first-round pick signs a contract, the first three years are guaranteed, with a team option for the fourth year. Players are paid a set amount based on where they were selected in the draft. Under the proposed new rules, first-round picks would get the first two years of their contract guaranteed. The third and fourth years of the contract would be team options.
Under Monday's proposal, owners would in return make the following concessions to the players:
• Total player salaries would be guaranteed. The proposed agreement guarantees that players receive a minimum of 57 percent of basketball-related income (BRI) in the form of salaries each year.
• The salary cap would increase. The current CBA bases the salary cap on BRI. The cap is set at 48 percent of BRI; last year, that came to $43.87 million per team. According to sources, the owners would agree to increase that percentage to 51 percent, in effect raising the salary cap. Sources say the cap would, in that case, rise to between $47 million and $50 million next season.
• Escrow would be reduced and distribution of escrow monies modified. Currently, players must pay 10 percent of their salaries into an escrow account each season. If, at season's end, the total amount of player salaries exceeds 57 percent of the league's total basketball-related income, that money goes to the owners whose teams stay below the luxury-tax threshold (and a few that fall within a certain "cliff threshold"). If it doesn't exceed 57 percent, the players get their money back. Under the proposed agreement, that number would be slowly phased down to 8 percent by the end of the agreement.
There is potentially another significant development in this area. Under current rules, the NBA has sole discretion over the use of the escrow money. Currently, it redistributes the cash (and luxury-tax revenues) to teams that are under the luxury-tax threshold. In essence, Clippers owner Donald Sterling gets a bonus for being cheap. Under the proposed agreement, distribution rules would be changed so that luxury-tax revenues would now be distributed equally among all 30 teams.
• No super luxury tax. Owners had been pushing for a "super tax" for teams that exceed the salary cap by more than a certain percentage. The teams would be penalized $2 for every dollar they were over the tax threshold. However, the owners dropped their demand for a super tax under the newest proposal.
The agreement still will need to be ratified by the league's Board of Governors and by the members of the players' union at their annual meeting in Las Vegas next week.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.