The fate of the NBA season may hang in the balance, as representatives for the National Basketball Players' Association mull David Stern's latest revised proposal. The arguments and contentions between the NBA owners and the NBPA have recently shifted from the Basketball Related Income (BRI) split, to the specific form and structure of various salary cap and free agency rules. Stern has adjusted the most recent proposal in response to the demands of union negotiators, but how far has the league extended their hand across the bargaining table?
Ken Berger of CBS Sports and Howard Beck of the New York Times have both provided some valuable details of the current offer. Berger is reporting the league's offer has made the following improvements from the previous one:
Increase the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams to three-year deals starting at $3 million, available every year. The previous proposal called for mid-level deals for tax teams to be for two years starting at $2.5 million and available every other year. Allow tax-payers to execute sign-and-trade transactions for the first two years of the agreement. Such trades would be banned for tax teams after that. They were completely banned for tax-payers in the prior proposal. Create a new, $2.5 million exception that can be used by teams that are under the cap. It would allow teams that previously only had cap space to sign a minimum salary player to offer more. Increase the team payroll floor (i.e. minimum team salary) to 90 percent of the cap in the third year of the deal and 85 percent in the first two years. It was 85 percent across the entire agreement in the previous proposal, and 75 percent in the prior CBA.
Howard Beck adds some additional detail:
Players signed using so-called Bird rights would get 6.5 percent annual raises, up from 5.5 percent in the prior offer. Players who sign contracts below the average salary would be eligible for opt-out clauses (which are otherwise banned, except in limited situations). The 10-year labor deal would include a mutual opt-out after the sixth year - at the union's request - instead of the seventh.
There is plenty of discussion about whether the deal is enough to meet the expectations of players and achieve ratification in a union vote. Some players are clearly against accepting the current offer, and that group could deliver a petition for a vote to decertify the NBPA as soon as Monday, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. Meanwhile, some around the NBA think that union membership should hold a vote on the proposal to cut through the propaganda. David Falk, the former agent of NBA stars Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing and current agent for nine NBA players has said "I think it would be a complete abdication of responsibility as agents for anyone to suggest that the players as a group shouldn't vote on whatever the final proposal is."
Over the next few days, the union will make decisions on whether to vote regarding the current proposal, or file petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the union, or issue a dislcaimer of interest from union leaders that would dissolve the union immediately.