The most financially successful era in NBA history will continue uninterrupted for at least six more years, after the league and its players came to a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will kick in this summer.
It took more than a year of bargaining, with the intensity and expectation growing in recent days, and the handshake agreement was struck in the wee hours of Saturday morning — shortly after the league intended to tell the National Basketball Players Association of its plan to opt out of the current CBA on June 30.
Instead, a deal got done, at least in principle. “The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, pending ratification by players and team governors,” was the league’s only comment, coming shortly before 3 a.m. Eastern.
Technically, it will be a seven-year deal, though either side can opt out a year early — meaning labor peace is only assured through the 2028-29 season. It will also begin the era of an in-season tournament, something Commissioner Adam Silver has wanted for years.
The following has just been released: pic.twitter.com/Tf8NDvi0TE
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 1, 2023
Barring a change to the current plan, teams will be given an 80-game schedule for next season in August. Those 80 games will include “tournament” games — probably four — that will count in regular-season standings. All teams will have two more games added to their schedule eventually so the full 82-game slate is played; the two teams that make the tournament final will be playing an 83rd game that won’t count in the standings.
Among other details, per a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press: players will generally have to appear in at least 65 games in order to be eligible for the top individual awards such as Most Valuable Player; the maximum value of contract extensions will rise; and a third two-way contract will now be available to teams — which could potentially see roster sizes grow from 17 to 18. 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.
The new CBA won’t include a return 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 the rule won’t be changing anytime soon — probably not for at least the term of the next CBA.