NBA Franchise Tag Would Be Far Different From NFL Version, According To Report

If the NBA does adopt a franchise tag in its next collective bargaining agreement, it would be far different from the NFL version from which it borrows its name, reports the excellent Zach Lowe of SI.com.

Lowe cites sources who say the franchise tag under negotiation as the NBA and its players' union work toward a new labor agreement would more incent stars to stay with their home franchises instead of, as the NFL's version does, force stars to remain with their team. In the NFL, teams can slap a franchise tag on their own free agents to prevent them from signing with another team; the cost is high for the one season the franchise tag is in effect, and oftentimes the player will negotiate a longer-term deal to get some stability.

Lowe reports that NBA version would simply allow teams to select a franchise player, and that star's maximum salary and contract length would be higher than for other players. Currently, NBA teams can sign their own free agents (provided they own "Bird rights" on said players) to six-year contracts with 10.5 percent annual raises. Free agents picked up from other teams can sign nothing longer than a five-year deal with 8 percent annual raises.

But players and teams have found ways around this. LeBron James and Chris Bosh, for example, signed six-year deals with the Miami Heat because their former teams sought the bonus of a trade exception and a draft pick that was the result of a sign-and-trade. One assumes the new franchise tag would forbid sign-and-trade deals for "franchise players."

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