Breaking down the new NBA agreement

Stoudemire and Anthony will be back, but will the Knicks add another star under the new CBA rules?

The NBA lockout, which will reportedly come to an official end in the coming week, has left both the players’ side and the owners’ side unhappy.     

The acrimony that was built over the summer and into the fall will soon dissipate and all will go back to normal, including heavy spending by the larger markets and more obscurity for the lesser ones.    

The total basketball revenue income (BRI) has increased for ownership and the over-the-cap luxury tax has reportedly increased three-fold — at least leveling the playing field somewhat — but it’s still a buyer’s market for the league’s big-wigs like the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Mavs and Knicks.    

Under the last collective bargaining agreement, the luxury tax — a softer version of the NFL’s salary cap system — deemed that any NBA team that went over the allotted salary cap had to pay dollar-for-dollar in a tax. The newly proposed tax, however, would force teams to reportedly pay three times that amount. For example, if the Knicks went over the new salary cap by $10 million, they would owe $30 million in taxes. Such a burden would cripple most teams, but wouldn’t hinder the new-look Knicks from still purging lower-market teams of their stars.    

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver tried to justify the new CBA by adding he’s confident the new luxury tax laws will slow down teams like the Heat and Knicks from stockpiling their rosters.       

“I think it will largely prevent the high-spending teams from competing in the free-agency market in the way they’ve been able to in the past,” Silver said. “The luxury tax is harsher than it was in the past deal and we hope it’s effective.”   

Silver did not specify the exact new workings of the luxury tax but added a team like the Lakers would be soundly penalized for going over the cap. Last season the Lakers had the league’s highest payroll, doling out $91 million in player salaries and another $21 million in luxury-tax penalties. This year’s penalties would be roughly $60 million.   

The Knicks would be in the same boat but that wouldn’t necessarily stop them pursuing the likes of Hornets point guard Chris Paul or Nets point guard Deron Williams. The Knicks have always been willing to pay top dollar – even for mediocre talent. The luxury tax shouldn’t deter them from getting a Paul or Williams and forming their own “Big Three” to complement Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.    

“You know that the richer NBA teams, like the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers will find ways around the salary cap, no matter how hard the owners say it is,” said one prominent NBA scout, adding the players will still see greener pastures. “That will also likely push the players’ salaries even higher than they are already projected to go.”     

So fear not, Knicks fans, you’ll surely get your own version of the “Big 3,” regardless of the new CBA.   

Knicks notes 

» The new CBA will allow for a 66-game schedule, which will force the free agency period and training camp to open on the same day, Dec. 9. The season will officially start with a Christmas Day slate that would include the Celtics at the Knicks. 

» Should the proposed schedule go as planned, the regular season will last 10 days longer than usual, making the last possible day of the NBA Finals be June 26 — two weeks later than the championship ended last season.   

» Teams would play 48 games within their conference and 18 non-conference games. That means Knicks fans would still get to see Kobe Bryant and the Lakers as per their annual visit to the Garden. No team would play on three straight nights more than three times. And like the lockout-shortened campaign in 1999, back-to-backs might also be played during the second round of the postseason.

» Although neither side was ultimately happy, the consensus is that the owners got most of the major concessions from the players in the new deal. The biggest concession the players agreed to was a 50-50 revenue split of the BRI. The old deal had the players receive 57 percent. In dollar terms, the players are essentially giving back to the owners $300 million per year under this deal. That is roughly the exact amount of money the owners claimed to be collectively losing per season. The players are also giving back minor concessions like shorter guaranteed contracts and a harder salary cap to prevent richer teams from overspending.   

» The new labor agreement will stretch 10 years, the longest labor agreement in NBA history. There won’t be another labor impasse for at least six years, when both sides will have the ability to opt-out.  

» It’s hard to call the players “losers” because the average player will still be a millionaire. The NBA players went into the lockout as the highest-paid athletes among the major sports in the United States, as the NBA players were paid $5.15 million per season on average. That is significantly more than MLB players ($3.31 million), NHL players ($2.4 million) and NFL players ($1.9 million). Even though the NBA players gave back some $300 million per year, they will still be the highest-paid athletes in the United States by a large margin.  

» The preseason schedule is still unclear, but one person involved with the process said there should be an “abbreviated version” where teams would only play two games, probably against a nearby rival. The source also said there’s a strong possibility that those games would have nothing but low-priced tickets, as a gesture of apologizing to fans for the delay.   
 
» As for the players who signed overseas, most will be able to come back without breaching their contracts. Nets guard Deron Williams said on Twitter early Saturday morning that he would soon be leaving his Turkish club, Besiktas, without any hitches. But for those free agents who signed deals with Chinese clubs, like former Knick Wilson Chandler, it may be harder to work out buyouts and outright releases.  

» The CBA isn’t officially ratified due to the loose strings that need to be tied. Such topics of interest include drug testing, the age limit and use of the Development League.


Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter
@TBone8 for any breaking news on the CBA and what the Knicks will be doing going forward.


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