The NBA will have labor peace for years to come.
The league and its players came to an agreement early Saturday on a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, the NBA announced. It is still pending ratification, though that process is almost certainly no more than a formality.
The deal will begin this summer and will last at least through the 2028-29 season. Either side can opt out then; otherwise, it will last through 2029-30.
Among the details, per a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press: the in-season tournament that Commissioner Adam Silver has wanted for years will become reality, and players will have to appear in at least 65 games in order to be eligible for the top individual awards such as Most Valuable Player. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the National Basketball Players Association released specifics publicly.
Another new part of the CBA will be a second luxury tax level that, when reached, will keep teams from using their midlevel exception to sign players. That was a clear compromise, given how some teams wanted the so-called "upper spending limit" that would have essentially installed an absolute ceiling on what can be spent each season and help balance the playing field between the teams that are willing to pay enormous tax bills and those who aren't.
A referee throws a Wilson brand NBA basketball during the game between the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat at Little Caesars Arena on March 19, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Not in the CBA is a change to the policy that would allow high school players to enter the NBA draft. It was discussed and has been an agenda item for months, but it won't be changing anytime soon — probably not for at least the term of the next CBA.
"We also appreciate that there is a lot of benefit to really having veterans who can bring those 18-year-olds along," NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in February during an NBPA news conference at All-Star weekend. "And so, certainly anything that we would even consider, to be quite honest, would have to include a component that would allow veterans to be a part of it as well."
Silver said Wednesday, at the conclusion of a two-day Board of Governors meeting, that he was hopeful of getting a deal done by the weekend. He also said there had been no consideration — at least on the league’s part — of pushing the opt-out date back for a third time.
The current CBA, which took effect July 1, 2017, came with a mutual option for either the NBA or the NBPA to opt out after six seasons — June 30 of this year. The sides originally had a Dec. 15 deadline to announce an intention to exercise the opt-out, then pushed it back to Feb. 8, then to Friday.
The league and the union continued talking after the midnight opt-out deadline passed, and a deal was announced nearly three hours later.
The agreement doesn’t end the process, though it's obviously a huge step forward.
The owners will have to vote on what the negotiators have hammered out, and the players will have to vote to approve the deal as well. Then comes the actual writing of the document — the most recent CBA checked in at around 600 pages containing nearly 5,000 paragraphs and 200,000 words. Much of it will be the same; much of it will need revising.