LOS ANGELES — Labor peace is at hand.
On Friday, the NBA and the NBPA ratified the next collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2023-24 season. That's great news for basketball fans in general. A lockout was averted.
The advantage for L.A. is clear when it comes to keeping its young, talented players. A normal rookie-scale extension was limited to four years, but the new agreement will allow teams to utilize two five-year designated player extensions instead of just one.
Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram all have the potential to become All-Star-caliber players. Randle is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, followed by Russell and Ingram one and two years after that, respectively.
As added incentive to stay with their incumbent franchises, designated players are also eligible for a higher salary scale if they qualify by earning awards like Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year or make an All-NBA team.
So, the Lakers will have to decide which two of Randle, Russell and Ingram will get the more lucrative offers, assuming all three emerge as stars. Regardless, the team will still have the advantage, as all three will become restricted free agents if they aren't extended first.
On the other side of that coin, the Lakers aren't likely to steal another team's star who's coming off a rookie-scale contract since the new deal only increases the likelihood that young talents will stay home.
Rule changes could also make it significantly more difficult for L.A. to land an established star via free agency or trade.
Currently, teams can give out only four additional years on veterans' extensions. So, in the cases of superstars, franchises have been limited to below-market offers.
For instance, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't have the means to give Kevin Durant an extension before he hit free agency, opening the door for his departure to the Golden State Warriors. The new CBA will allow teams to offer an additional five years and a larger bump in pay, so franchises will be more likely to lock down good players for longer, earlier.
The NBA also created a designated veteran tag for superstars. Like designated rookies, veterans entering their eighth or ninth seasons who have won the aforementioned awards will be eligible for pay days as if they had at least 10 years of NBA experience.
For example: The Warriors' Stephen Curry will be eligible to sign a five-year contract for more than $209 million this summer as a designated veteran instead of the $179 million he could get under the existing rules.
The most anyone outside of Golden State would be able to offer Curry is four years at roughly $133 million. A star might turn down a few million to change franchises, but $76 million?
Now, if Randle, Russell and/or Ingram eventually reach that status, the Lakers will have the advantage to keep them in Los Angeles. In the meantime, they will be hard pressed to poach another team's star.
To qualify for a designated veteran exception, a player must be with the same team for at least four years. Each franchise can sign two players to designated veteran contracts. Armed with a greater ability to keep their own players and with the threat of departures significantly diminished, teams will be less likely to trade those players.
That the NBA will remain in action without interruption for years to come is great, but the new CBA appears to be a mixed bag for the Lakers.
Lakers Insider Notebook
There's one omission in the new CBA that could impact the Lakers: The deal does not include a one-time amnesty provision.
The 2011 agreement allowed teams to waive a single player, wiping their salary from the team's books. While that player still earned their compensation, the rule helped teams open spending power under the salary cap or avoid luxury taxes.
In 2013, the Lakers used the amnesty clause to waive Metta World Peace. By striking his $7.7 million salary from their payroll, they saved roughly $15 million in luxury taxes. World Peace was still paid and eventually re-signed with the team in each of the last two offseasons.
Los Angeles won't have that amnesty provision under the new deal to clear either Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov from its cap. Deng will earn $54 million and Mozgov $48 million over the next three seasons, respectively.
They may earn their keep, but if they don't age well with the Lakers' youthful core, the team will need to find other means to exit their contracts.
One change that may benefit the Lakers will be that teams can send and receive more cash in trades.
The current maximum is $3.5 million over the course of the year (from July 2016 to June 2017). That figure will grow to $5.1 million and will increase proportionately with the salary cap each season.
Equipped with a lucrative local broadcast deal with Spectrum SportsNet, the Lakers are in a better position to send over $5 million in cash than teams in smaller markets—who don't take home nearly as much for their television rights.
That said, L.A. hasn't dealt any cash in recent years, dating back to the $1.8 million it sent to the Washington Wizards in June 2014 to acquire the rights to Jordan Clarkson as the 46th overall pick in that draft.
As the Lakers grow from a rebuilding team into a playoff contender, the cash advantage may prove to be more of a factor.
Good News: Nance Out Only a Month
Second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. needed to be helped off the court Tuesday after he injured his left knee against the Charlotte Hornets. The team's initial statement Wednesday was vague, noting Nance would be sidelined indefinitely but that test results were "inconclusive due to swelling in the knee."
On Sunday, Nance was examined by Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health, and the injury was diagnosed as a bone bruise. The Lakers announced Nance will need to sit approximately four weeks.
A month's absence may be far from ideal, but Nance escaped what might have been a more debilitating injury. While a bone bruise may be painful and linger, it's no doubt preferable to a season-ender like a ligament tear.
As a junior at Wyoming, Nance tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He recovered for his senior year, but there was persistent soreness that eventually cost him games as a rookie with the Lakers.
Injuries have been an issue for the Lakers this season. They've lost Russell (knee) for 13 games, Jose Calderon (hamstring) for 12, Tarik Black (ankle) for 10, Nick Young (toe, calf) for seven and Randle (hip) for five. They started the year 10-10 but have since dropped to 12-22.
Nance has already sat out six games (one with a concussion) and would miss another 14 should he return to action Jan. 25. The injury also likely scuttled his opportunity to participate in the NBA's dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in mid-February.
The Lakers will miss the do-everything forward. Expect Deng to pick up additional minutes at the 4 spot. Thomas Robinson, who has been filling in as the team's backup center, may also stay in the rotation once Black returns to health.
Kupchak Excited for New Practice Facility
This summer, the Lakers will move a few blocks in El Segundo to the UCLA Health Training Center.
"It's spectacular. It's glass and steel and has a great look to it," general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We're hoping that it gets opened this season, but I don't think we'll move into it until the offseason—maybe June, maybe July. If you drive by there now, it will look like it's almost done."
The entire organization, roughly 300 people, will be housed in the new facility.
"Right now, we're between two or three buildings. It kind of works, but it would be a lot better if we were all together," Kupchak said. "I've seen a lot of facilities the last [few] weeks. I travel a little bit with the team, and there's going to be nothing like this anywhere in the NBA."
In addition to two full-size courts, the practice center will include a video screening room, player lounge, barber shop, kitchen, garden, multiple pools and weight and training rooms, along with space for the team's front office and sales departments.
"It's really going to be a gem of a facility," Kupchak said.
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