As I listen to the radio, read articles on the Internet and discuss basketball with friends, it's clear to me that Trail Blazer fans still have questions about Greg Oden's status with the franchise and what options the team has, in regards to contract offers for him. So, I thought I'd go straight to the source and interview the Collective Bargaining Agreement itself to find out the answers to the questions that fans are asking.
Please remember that these are the answers given by the current CBA and only extend to things that can/will happen before it expires on June 30th. The specifics of what will happen after that can only be answered by the next CBA, which has yet to be agreed upon. However, the assumption is that the basic rules regarding contracts and contract offers will generally be the same under the next CBA as they relate to Greg's situation - some of the numbers might be different, but it is believed by most that the parameters of his situation will, for the most part, be the same.
The Blazers may have more options available to them after June 30th (and after a new CBA is in place). They may be able make other, different contract offers to Greg at that time. But for now, here is what the CBA has to say about their options during the rest of this month:
Q: Greg Oden's contract expires after June 30th. Will he then become an Unrestricted Free Agent or a Restricted Free Agent?
A: According to Article XI, Section 4 (a) (i):
From the day following the Season covered by the second Option Year of a First Round Pick’s Rookie Scale Contract through the immediately following June 30, the player’s Team may make a Qualifying Offer to the player. If such a Qualifying Offer is made, then, on the July 1 following such Season, the player shall become a Restricted Free Agent, subject to a Right of First Refusal in favor of the Team...If such a Qualifying Offer is not made, then the player shall become an Unrestricted Free Agent on such July 1.
In other words, if a Qualifying Offer is made to Greg between the end of the NBA Finals and June 30th, he will become a Restricted Free Agent. If a Qualifying Offer is not made, he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent.
Q: How is Restricted Free Agency different from Unrestricted Free Agency? What does Right of First Refusal (ROFR) mean?
A: According to Article XI, Section 5 (b) and Section 5 (e):
When a Restricted Free Agent receives an offer to sign a Player Contract from a Team other than the ROFR Team (the “New Team”), which he desires to accept...If, within seven (7) days from the date it receives an Offer Sheet, the ROFR Team gives to the Restricted Free Agent a “First Refusal Exercise Notice” substantially in the form of Exhibit H annexed hereto, then, subject to Section 5(h) below, such Restricted Free Agent and the ROFR Team shall be deemed to have entered into a Player Contract
In other words, when a Restricted Free Agent receives an offer sheet from another team, his previous team has up to 7 days to match that offer and retain the player, if they want to.
Q: What is meant by a Qualifying Offer for Greg?
A: According to Article I, Section 1 (rr):
"Qualifying Offer" means an offer of a Uniform Player Contract, signed by the Team, that:...is for a period of one year; and...provides...for First Round Picks finishing their Rookie Scale Contracts, Salary (excluding Incentive Compensation), Likely Bonuses and Unlikely Bonuses equal to the Salary (excluding Incentive Compensation), Likely Bonuses and Unlikely Bonuses, respectively, provided in the fourth Salary Cap Year of the Rookie Scale Contract increased by the percentage called for in Exhibit B hereto
In other words, it is a one year contract, offering to those players coming off of their rookie scale contract the salary amount called for in Exhibit B. In Greg's case, this means a one year contract offer (for the 2011-12 season) for $8,788,681
Q: Can Greg Oden accept the Qualifying Offer before the current CBA expires on June 30th?
A: Yes. According to Article VII, Section 5 (e) (4) (i):
A player who receives a Required Tender or a Qualifying Offer during the month of June may accept such Required Tender or Qualifying Offer beginning on the date he receives it.
Q: Can the Blazers make any contract offer other than the one year Qualifying Offer before June 30th?
A: Yes. According to Article XI, Section 4 (a) (ii):
A Team that makes a Qualifying Offer to a player following the second Option Year of his Rookie Scale Contract may elect simultaneously to offer the player an alternative Contract covering six (6) Seasons that provides Salary for the first Salary Cap Year equal to the Maximum Annual Salary under Article II, Section 7(a), with annual increases in Salary equal to 10.5% of the Salary for the first Salary Cap Year (a “Maximum Qualifying Offer”)...A Maximum Qualifying Offer shall contain only Base Compensation and no bonuses of any kind...A Maximum Qualifying Offer cannot contain an Option or ETO, and must provide full Base Compensation protection in each Season...A player may accept either his Qualifying Offer or his Maximum Qualifying Offer, but not both.
In other words, if Portland offers Greg a Qualifying Offer, they also have the option of simultaneously offering him a Maximum Qualifying Offer, which would be for the maximum salary for 6 years.
Q: Can the Blazers extend Greg's current contract before he becomes a free agent?
A: No. According to Article VII, Section 7 (b)
No Rookie Scale Contract may be extended except in accordance with the following:...A First Round Pick who enters into a Rookie Scale Contract that commences with the 2005-06 Season or a subsequent Season may enter into an Extension of such Rookie Scale Contract during the period from the day following the last day of the Moratorium Period through October 31 of the second Option Year
In other words, the opportunity for the Blazers to extend Oden's current contract expired on November 1, 2010 (since October 31st was a Sunday, the deadline was moved to the next weekday).
Please let me know if I've missed a question that you have about the Blazers' options before June 30th in regards to Greg.