NBA owners, league officials, players and union officials continue to meet to negotiate a new labor deal before the current agreement expires June 30. A nearly five-hour session in New York on Friday resulted in at least one bit of progress, according to reports by New York Times' Howard Beck: the NBA has dropped its demand for the end of guaranteed contracts in the new deal.
The guaranteed contract has long scarred the records of NBA GMs; currently, contracts can be signed for up to six years, and most are fully guaranteed until, in some cases, the final year. Unlike the NFL's salary system, NBA teams have no way of excising payroll without a mutually agreed upon buyout (rare) or trade. Recoveries from bad contracts tend to be slower in the NBA; one bad contract (or injury) can handcuff a team for years.
The NBA had sought to eliminate the very idea of the guaranteed contract in the league, but reportedly gave up that chip. But the league is still working toward ways to diminish the risk involved with long-term contracts: by shortening the maximum length of contracts, by diminishing the share of revenue from its current 57-43 split that favors players, by instituting a hard cap. Those are still major obstacles to a deal. Ending the guaranteed contract was the most outrageous concept in the NBA's proposal; to see it gone 13 days before the deadline is good news, but not quite enough yet.