NBA Lockout: In-Depth Solutions to Get Back in Business

Ever since the lockout started looming, players, owners, management, and fans everywhere have been asking me to write up a solution for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement....

Well OK maybe not but I am going to anyway. I see both sides of this issue, the players don't force the owners to spend their money. At the same time, at least the players are making money, while a lot of the owners are losing it. All NBA teams should be able to turn a profit. Players will make less money, it is only a matter of how that is achieved and how much less they make.

Here are 10 steps for a new CBA that is fair for both sides.:


1. Bring player share of revenues down to 50% from 57%

Player salaries are currently based off this 57% number, which is the percentage of Basketball Related Income that players are entitled to. This is how they get the salary cap. All expenses included other employees, advertising etc. come out of the other 43%.

This is the root issue. A 50-50 split seems fair to me.

2. A Harder Soft Cap

The owners want a hard cap, the players want none of that. My solution: A harder soft cap. I am not sure of the best plan the achieve this, but here is one idea.

Under the revenue change, the new salary cap would be about $51 million. Teams that go over the $65 mil would have to pay a luxury tax. Once they go over $75 mil, they would lose all salary exceptions save Bird-rights, signing their rookies, and minimum scale contracts. That would help to both level the playing field, and to save the owners from themselves.

3. Salary Rollbacks

The players won't be too happy about this, but it is necessary. To save teams money and give them flexibility under the new rules, current salaries would have to be cut. I would cut them on a sliding scale taking more money from those who make more but in a way which would keep someone who makes more now from making less under the new system. It would average somewhere between 12-15% of current salaries.  

There is some merit to the argument that star players are making the NBA and teams way more than they're paid. That is true, but it is the same for almost everyone else too. We make our companies more than they pay us, that is how business works. The star players, on top of their still-good salaries, will be making millions off endorsements anyway. 

4. Fewer Guaranteed Years

Many teams get screwed (or do it to themselves) with a big contract for a player who ends up injured or just disappointing. Under the new system, teams can re-sign their players for six years still, but the last year would be fully non-guaranteed and the fifth year would only be half guaranteed.Signing players from other teams would be the same except for one less year.

This would protect a teams from a lot of the damage done to teams by the Eddy Curry's and Gilbert Arenas's of the league.

5. Smaller Salary Increases

Right now base salaries can increase by 8% per-year or 10.5% if you are re-signing. This is how Joe Johnson's salary balloons up to $25 mil in 2016 (when he won't even be very good). A more manageable increase, closer to what most people might expect would be better. Something like 3% and 5.5%. 

6. Revamped Exceptions

The sign-and-trade exception is one that may not last. I would propose to keep this, but change the rules a bit. Teams would still be able to do sign-and-trades, but the player would still be only eligible for the fewer years and smaller increases he would get from signing with a new team.

The Mid-Level exception would stay, but since it is equal to the average salary of an NBA player, it would be smaller.

7. Revenue Sharing

Some may say it is communistic to make teams like the Knicks share their revenues with teams like the Bobcats. I think it would be perfectly fair for the away team to get some portion of the revenue generated. Fans aren't going to pay to see the Knicks shooting around by themselves. Something like a 70-30 split seems fair to me. This isn't really in the CBA, it is something the owners would have to work out. 

8. Amnesty Provision

There would be amnesty this time similar to last time with except would take the waived players salary off for cap AND tax purposes.

9. No HUGE Systematic Changes

While this would change the landscape a lot, none of these are really major systematic changes. A couple of things they should stay away from: A low hard-cap and a "franchise tag".

The hard-cap would really hurt players a lot and they wouldn't go along with it. This proposal should have enough safeguards for owners. I think that the "franchise tag" that has been talked about would not work, and would probably not be fair to players. Although I don't like what the Heat did and don't want to see more of that, players are already stuck with the team that drafted them for at least five years if they team desires. There would also be financial benefits to staying with your team, as outlined.

10. Hold off One Year

A lot of these rules will take adjustments from teams and especially from players.  Steps 1-3 could wait a year and players with contracts would keep their current salaries for the next year. This would give them plenty of time to prepare for their smaller salaries.

What do you think? Would this be a good compromise? What changes would you make?

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