There will not be a lockout in 2017. The NBA and the players' union have officially reached terms on a new labor deal, pending ratification from the owners and the players.
Both sides had the chance to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement they signed in 2011 by Dec. 15. However, the league and the players' union managed to reach a framework for a deal before then, avoiding the possibility of a work stoppage. The two sides agreed to extend the deadline to officially ratify the new deal until Jan. 13, 2017, but that isn’t expected to stop a deal.
Once the new agreement is ratified, the NBA will continue to operate in mostly the same way, but both sides targeted areas that needed to evolve. Not everything has a resolution, but the new CBA does bring changes to several key issues. Here’s what changed and what is staying the same:
The basketball-related income split will not change
During the last lockout, the players share of basketball-related income dropped from 57 to around 50 percent. It was a huge concession they had to make to get the work stoppage resolved.
This time around, both sides agreed to maintain the status quo. In the wake of a nine-year, $24-billion television deal, neither side wanted to miss out on the largest windfall in league history. An average salary in the NBA is much higher than other leagues, thanks to fewer roster spots. All of that had to make ironing out a deal and avoiding a lockout much easier.
Teams can extend two veteran player for six years
The NBA already had a designated rookie rule, which allowed one rookie to be extended by five years instead of the normal four. Teams will now be able to extend that concept to veterans, with the ability to choose two players who can receive a six-year extension, instead of the usual five.
This immediately gives teams with superstars a better chance to retain them, simply due to the sheer amount of guaranteed money that comes with a six-year deal. Were this in place in the past, maybe Kevin Durant never reaches free agency in 2016.
Players must hit certain requirements to qualify for the designated veteran rule, including an All-NBA team, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe. This rule should affect players like DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George when they become free agents in 2018.
Fixed salaries will get a much-needed update
While free agent salaries soared along with the cap last summer, the minimum salary and the rookie scale did not. Both were set with fixed numbers, rather than being tied to a percentage of the cap like max salaries. Likewise, the value of free agent exceptions (such as the mid-level exception) stayed the same.
All of those contracts will rise under the new CBA, with minimum salaries rising by 45 percent across the board, according to Sports Illustrated.
Rookie contracts will still be relatively low and come with team options, so normalizing their salaries won’t ruin their value. Larger free agent exceptions will give teams over the cap a competitive tool to make additions. The minimum will still only represent a small percentage of the cap, but the players receiving it will see their income increase significantly. It benefited all parties to agree on these issues.
The introduction of two-way contracts will help the D-League grow
Teams will be able to develop two players in the D-League on two-way contracts, a big step forward in the road towards setting up a true minor league, per the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This change will increase the maximum roster size to 17.
The new rule will allow franchises to keep control of prospects they intend to develop while making sure the players get a bump in salary when they contribute to the parent team. In addition, their D-League salaries are getting a boost.
Currently, top-rated Development League players make $26,000, with the lower-tiered guys netting $19,000. But D-League salaries for players on two-way contracts are expected to more than double into the $50,000-to-$75,000 range, per ESPN’s Marc Stein, making the league more competitive with overseas salaries.
The one-and-done rule will remain in place, for now
One of commissioner Adam Silver's stated intentions when crafting the new CBA was raising the age minimum from 19 to 20 to enter the league. That would have effectively ended the one-and-done trend in college basketball.
The NBPA supported a modified version of Silver’s plan, pushing to instate a “zero-and-two” rule like the one that exists in MLB. That rule would allow players to declare for the draft out of high school, but they must stay in school for two years if they do go to college.
For now, the rules are staying the same. However, neither side is committed to keeping the current rule for the entirety of the new CBA, per Wojnarowski.
The preseason will be shortened and the season will start earlier
In the team’s continued efforts to reduce the amount of travel and number of back-to-backs, the league will start the regular season a week earlier while limiting preseason games to only six. Back-to-backs have already been significantly reduced this season, and no team plays four games in five nights more than once.
There has been groundswell for the league to completely eliminate back-to-backs, which may require shortening the traditional 82-game season. However, this small change will help reduce the travel fatigue that is concerning teams more than ever before.
The “over-36” rule is becoming “over-38”
Under the last CBA, teams couldn’t offer five-year maximum contracts to players who would turn 36 years old during any point of the contract. That rule has been modified from over 36 to over 38.
That would benefit players like Chris Paul, who is the current union president, and LeBron James, who serves as vice president.