NBA, players complete process of ratifying new labor deal
By Tim Reynolds | The Associated Press
The votes are in, and labor peace in the NBA is virtually assured for several years.
The National Basketball Players Association has completed its process of voting to approve the terms of the next collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players, which was tentatively agreed upon last week. All that’s left to do now is for the sides to sign the deal, which will happen once the writing of the actual document is completed.
Members of the NBA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the deal, and players got their vote done subsequently. The approvals were announced in a simple, short statement Friday night, essentially ending a process that was blissful compared to the rancor-filled mess that surrounded the last round of labor negotiations – ones where a lockout wound up threatening an entire season – five years ago.
“The parties voted based on a term sheet that outline the key deal points,” the league and the union said in that statement. “Once the NBA and NBPA finish drafting and execute the complete agreement, specific details will be released.”
The seven-year deal will go into effect July 1. Either side may opt out after six years.
“It’s funny: I don’t feel old by any means, but I’ve been through sort of two of these, this the second one I’ve really been involved in,” union president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers said after the deal was struck last week. “I can remember how ugly it got back in 2011. I was a little younger then, didn’t fully understand all the things that were taking place. This was different … like a partnership.”
This era is the most lucrative in NBA history, with salaries and revenues both rising – and if forecasts from both sides are correct that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. The league’s record $24 billion television deal is responsible for much of the money that the sides are essentially sharing, and the average player salary is predicted to reach $8.5 million next season and $10 million within four years under the new deal.
Also coming, starting Jan. 1: Additional benefits for retired players, including better medical care – something both the NBPA and the league wanted to deliver.
Throughout the process, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lauded how union leader Michele Roberts handled her role in deal-making, and singled out Charlotte owner and six-time NBA champion player Michael Jordan for his perspective as part of the negotiating committee.
“He clearly can put himself in a player’s shoes, but also when we’re meeting privately, he can help represent the players’ perspective to the owners,” Silver said in October. “I think it’s very, very healthy in terms of the business, and I also credit a lot of our success most recently of the league to that true sense of partnership between the players and the owners.”
It’s unclear when the process of completing the new CBA will be done. It may take some time, given the document’s size and the complexity of the language involved. But the major work is over now.
“I’m glad it got done,” Chicago guard Dwyane Wade said this week, while players were preparing to make their vote official. “It got done the right way.”