After all of the verbal jabs that were thrown back and forth during the negotiating sessions, the Owners and Players Association agreed in principal on a new CBA that will salvage the 2011-12 campaign. Although each team will lose 16 games, the season will kick off on Christmas Day, the day most feel is the official start of season. It is a 10-year agreement where both sides have the opportunity to opt out in six years. Therefore, we do not have to worry about this again until 2017.
Everybody is concerned about who eventually won this battle. As it turns out, the Owners reduced the Players’ share of the percentage of the revenue from 57% to 50%-51%. That is not pocket change. We are talking about $300,000 to $400,000 per percentage point. This will help bridge the gap between the larger- and smaller- market teams. Should the larger-market teams decide to spend beyond the ceiling cap, they would have to pay into the luxury tax pot, which is split up between the smaller-market teams. Some of the Owners wanted a 53%-47% split, but this should help ease the financial pains that the smaller-market teams have been feeling over the past decade.
The Owners did concede on some points that Players wanted, like reducing the restrictions on free-agency movement. When the parties agreed on the last CBA, the prevailing sentiment was that the Owners took the Players to the cleaners. The Owners thought that the players would jump on the maximum contracts or the largest offers and they made sure that the current team had the best advantage to re-sign their existing players. Then the Players decided to sign for less money to play where they wanted to play, turning down millions in the process. The players became their own general managers where they decided their own fates. That is why the smaller-market teams were fighting for a hard salary cap, leveling the playing field.
For the most part it came down to both parties agreeing to a split in the basketball generated revenue, where the Owners will receive any where from 49%-50% of the pie. We were at this point a month ago. The Owners had the leverage and the Players knew it. All of this decertification posturing was really a waste of time, especially since they waited this long in the process. It really just came down to both parties not really wanting to lose the entire season. I guarantee you that if the Players would have followed through with the decertification process and the courts would have gotten involved, we could have kissed the 2011-12 season goodbye. As it stands now, camps will open and teams will be able to sign free agents on December 9, 2011, with the season starting on Christmas Day. This means we will see our beloved New York Knicks with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony take on the hated Boston Celtics with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. We also get to see Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose go at it. Then we get to see the Miami Heat watch the Dallas Mavericks receive their championship rings before their tip off. Talk about must-see TV.
Yes, I’m glad that this lockout is over. The cynic in me also has to wonder how much of an impact Major League Baseball coming to a peaceful agreement with their negotiations had to do with the NBA getting their act together and coming to their senses. Nevertheless, we will have our NBA Christmas Day and that is the best present our fans can hope to get.