NBA Free Agency 2011: 5 Ways the New CBA Could Affect Free Agency

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IIJune 9, 2011

NBA Free Agency 2011: 5 Ways the New CBA Could Affect Free Agency

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    SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 21:  (L-R) Billy Hunter, President of the NBA Players Association and NBA commissioner David Stern smile at a press conference announcing that the NBA and the NBA Players Association have agreed in principal on a new 6-year Collective B
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The owners and players are nowhere close to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, and it looks like there will be a lockout starting July 1. 

    Of course, a lockout means no free agents can be signed, no players can be traded and teams are not allowed to have contact with their players. Once the CBA expires, there are no rules in place, so player movement is not allowed. 

    The new rules, whatever they are, will affect the amount of salary cap space each team has, because the owners are seeking to cut the percentage of basketball-related income that goes to the players in the new agreement. 

    Whether or not the owners are successful in getting the players to give up a portion of their "piece of the pie," they will surely be looking to accomplish these five things in collective bargaining negotiations...

1. Shorter Contracts

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 04: Eddy Curry of the New York Knicks sits on the bench and watches his teammates take on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on November 4, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    One of the things that is definitely going to be on the owners' wish list in negotiations is to shorten the length of maximum contracts. They have no interest in being hamstrung by the high-salaried, long-lasting contracts of players like Eddy Curry, who was dead weight on the New York Knicks payroll for years.

    A counter to that point would seem pretty easy: Be more cautious with who you give your money to. While the players are likely to resist the owners on this point, shorter contract length could actually benefit them in some ways.

    Shorter contracts allow for players to become free agents faster and more times throughout their careers, allowing them to cash in multiple times. Right now, a player who signs a maximum contract extension with his original team would be in the latter stages of his prime, or past it, by the time he comes up for his second contract. 

    If the length of a maximum contract was shortened to four years, it would allow them to be free agents up to two or three times while still in their prime years. 

2. Hard Cap

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  (L-R) Pau Gasol #16, Ron Artest #15, Lamar Odom #7 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The issue of a hard salary cap is one that the owners will likely not budge on, and the sticking point that could lead to a prolonged lockout.

    There are currently exceptions to the salary cap for signing a player whose Larry Bird Rights are under control by their current team, the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception. A hard cap would mean no more exceptions, and the spending limit would be the same for every team.

    This obviously affects high-salaried teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, whose highest-paid player, Kobe Bryant, makes more than half as much as the hard cap number the owners are seeking

    In addition, it could also halt the growth of the so-called Super Teams like the Big Three joining up in Miami. 

3. Franchise Tag

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    BOSTON - MAY 13:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands by in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. T
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The owners' proposal submitted to the players earlier this year included a modified version of the NFL's franchise tag. 

    Under the NFL's version of the franchise tag system, a team can prevent any one player on its roster from becoming a free agent by paying that player to a predetermined one-year salary based on a number of factors. 

    The NBA's version won't work exactly like that, but it will provide incentives for players to stick with their original teams. The players, whose newfound power to determine where they play and with whom is one of their prized rights, will resist this with great force.

    The freedom to choose where you work, with whom and for how much is important to players and they are unlikely to acquiesce to a deal that has this provision in it.

4. Salary Rollbacks

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Celt
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    If the owners get their hard cap, it is likely that they will be seeking to "rollback" the salaries of players already under contract as well to aide the process of getting all teams under the cap threshold. 

    This means that players like Carmelo Anthony, who insisted on being traded to the New York Knicks this season rather than signing with them over the summer so he could get his maximum contract extension, would see their salaries reduced by as much as 25 percent over the next three years. 

    This issue was seen as one of the major sticking points of the recent NHL lockout, and it took the players over a full season to finally give in to the owners' demands. If the NBA owners are as prepared as the NHL guys were to sacrifice a season to get anything they want in the deal, we could be in for an extended lockout. 

5. Rookies: Salary Scale and D-League

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    CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04:  NBA player Blake Griffin accepts the Rookie of the Year award at Spike TV's 5th Annual 'Guys Choice Awards' at Sony Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    The NBA owners, like their NFL counterparts, will want to regulate the amount of compensation the youngest and most inexperienced players on their team can receive. 

    The current rookie scale allows for players drafted in the second round to reach free agency, and thus their market potential, years sooner than those drafted in the first round. Working against future rookies in negotiating better deals for them is that they are not in the players union yet. Only current players are in the union, and they will likely be much more concerned with how veteran contracts are governed in the new agreement. 

    Another rookie/young player issue likely to come up is that if the D-League. The current system takes away a roster spot from the NBA team if they assign a player to the D-League. If they are to change that in the new agreement, we could see a system similar to that of baseball or hockey, with extra roster spots or player options to be moved up and down from the NBA to the D-League.