The NBA and NBPA have been in turbulent and unprecedented negotiations for several years, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the league returns to a relatively stable state, both parties now need to move forward with a new collective bargaining agreement. . The current deal does not expire for two years, but both parties have an opt-out option that they can exercise on Dec. 15 and presumably hope to agree on a new deal by then.
The first talks between the two sides were positive, by Athletic. They will meet again this week and the league has submitted proposals to the union for consideration. Several key points are on the negotiating table for revision. According to Shams Charania, these are some of the biggest:
- The league and union are expected to agree to change the minimum age for the NBA draft from 19 to 18. The league raised the minimum age ahead of the 2007 draft, but lowering it would allow high schoolers to become eligible again. That change could happen as early as 2024, setting the stage for the long-discussed “double” draft, in which top high school students are eligible alongside top college freshmen who had to wait a year.
- One of the main goals of the NBPA “is the idea of building solid capital for its players after their gaming days.” Exactly what form this might take is not yet clear, but one of the solutions the NBPA has put forward is the idea of creating a players-only fund that would help star players who play a critical role in raising the value of a franchise eventually become part of ownership groups when teams are up for sale. “Our players have money when they’re done playing and they’re determined to make it happen for them – that’s what fairness is,” said union chief executive Tamika Tremalho.
- Both parties are discussing measures that would allow players to treat mental health issues as they are currently receiving physical injuries. Ben Simmons noticeably missed last season in part because he claimed he was mentally incapable of playing.
- Changes to the league’s wealth tax formula are being discussed, possibly making it more punitive. The idea of a hard cap imposed on all 30 teams at any one time is seen as unacceptable, but the formula, which was already tightened in the 2011 CBA, could make it even harder for teams to spend beyond a certain level.
Since the conclusion of the 2011 CBA, the NBA and its union have enjoyed more than a decade of work peace. Commissioner Adam Silver has made building relationships with the players a priority and for now all signs point to a new deal. There are still a lot of details to be worked out, but as the league thrives, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make a deal.