NBA lockout is over
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
|Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher (R), president of the NBA players' association, listens as union executive director Billy Hunter (L) speaks during a news conference in New York November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK - It was wild, ugly and comical -- sometimes all at the same time -- but finally the NBA lockout is all but over.
Before it officially is over though, some "B-list" issues still need to be resolved, the NBA Players' Association must reassemble and drop its two lawsuits against the league and at least 15 owners and a simple majority of the 450 players will need to vote 'yes' to the agreement before training camps and free agency can open on Dec. 9.
With details about the agreement trickling in, after 149 days, it's easy to say: "Couldn't they have settled on these terms weeks ago?"
The answer is yes, but nobody wanted to show any signs of weakness. Not with bargaining on a new collective agreement as close as six years away and not when the players had their pride wounded by the marauding owners.
In the end, the NBA, coming off of a highly lucrative and exciting season, should not suffer too much -- but should see some sort of backlash.
While full details of the still-to-be-ratified agreement are not yet available, there is enough out there to consider how the proposed new and retained rules could impact the league going forward.
It is hard to believe that the owners allowed the infamous extend-and-trade clause (or the Carmelo Anthony clause) to stand after all of their talk about levelling the playing field, making life harder for the rich clubs and keeping fans in all cities connected with star players.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion that superstars looking to leave -- such as Anthony who insisted on a move to New York from Denver -- would no longer be able to sign an extension with their preferred destination. That would have helped keep megastar free agents-to-be Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams -- merely the league's top centre and two of its best point guards -- in Orlando, New Orleans and New Jersey, respectively. But, apparently, extend-and-trades will live on, though they will now only be four years in duration (one report pegged the number as three, which would make more sense).
You can expect to hear a ton of talk about where the threesome will be heading just as we previously were bombarded by LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Anthony talk.
Sure there are some new checks in place to limit the stacking of teams willing to pay. Examples: a more restrictive luxury tax; a clause that prevents tax-paying teams from bringing back their own free agents if they use the mid-level exception (which will prevent the world champion Dallas Mavericks from upgrading if they want to keep Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea), but the failure to do away with the Anthony clause and the jump to 25-30% of the cap allowed to be paid to franchise players seem like major bones thrown to the NBA's cream of the crop.
Expect to hear a lot of grumbling from the league's lesser lights who likely take a step or two back while the stars come out ahead.
But maybe that's fair since there are a lot of NBA-calibre players in the world, but very few future hall of famers.
There definitely should be more parity than before, but don't expect an NFL-style anybody can win league. The stars still impact the game more than in any other sport.
Some loopholes have been closed, but teams with top talent will still find a way to add to it.
"It's not the system we sought out to get in terms of a harder cap," said deputy commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday morning.
"But the luxury tax is harsher than it was in the past deal, and we hope it's effective."
Yes the owners reclaimed an extra 6% of basketball-related-income from the previous agreement (the players previously received 57% of certain BRI, now they get 51% if revenues continue to hit targets, but as little as 49% if they go way down).
However, the owners came in looking for a hard salary cap, a salary rollback and more restrictive free agency/trade stipulations and came away with at best 33% of what they were after.
Therefore it's hard to see this agreement as anything but a win-win.
The only real losers are the fans. There's no good reason why this saga is only now winding down to its conclusion.