NEW YORK — When it came time to be flexible, the commissioner who once called himself “Easy Dave” moved like he was Shakira.
David Stern and the NBA’s team owners made concessions on several key issues, both financial and system-related, to get the NBA lockout settled in the wee hours of the morning today at the close of a 15-hour bargaining session.
Here are some of the key details of those moves, according to a league source who was privy to the details of the tentative agreement and shared those details with SheridanHoops.com.
_ On the financial split, the players will receive between 49 and 51 percent of revenues, depending on annual growth. The players had complained prior to Saturday that the owners’ previous offer effectively limited them to 50.2 percent of revenues, but the source said 51 percent was now reasonably achievable with robust growth.
_Owners dropped their insistence on what would have been known as the Carmelo Anthony rule, preventing teams from executing extend-and-trade deals similar to the one that sent Anthony from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks last season. This means that if Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and Chris Paul want to leverage their way out of Orlando, New Jersey and New Orleans, they will still be eligible to sign three-year extensions with their current teams before being immediately traded elsewhere.
_ Teams above the salary cap will be able to offer four-year mid-level exception contracts to free agents each season. Previously, owners were asking that teams be limited to offering a four-year deal one year, a three-year deal the next, then four, then three, etc.
_ The rookie salary scale and veteran minimum salaries will stay the same as they were last season. Owners had been seeking 12 percent cuts.
_ Qualifying offers to restricted free agents will become “significantly” improved. The sides had already agreed to reduce the time for a team to match an offer to a restricted free agent from 7 days to 3.
_ A new $2.5 million exception will be available to teams that go below the salary cap, then use all of their cap room to sign free agents. Once they are back above the cap, they will be able to use the new exception instead of being limited to filling out their rosters with players on minimum contracts.
_ The prohibition on luxury tax-paying teams from executing sign-and-trade deals was loosened, although the freedom to execute those types of deals will still be limited.
Both sides will have the option to opt out of the 10-year deal after six years. Stern said he does not expect unanimous support from the owners, who will vote on the tentative agreement after the owners’ full negotiating committee receives a rundown of what is in the new deal.
Players also must ratify the agreement, a process that could take as long as a week while the union, which dissolved itself last week by issuing a disclaimer of interest, is reconstituted.
But if both constituencies sign off on the agreement, training camps and free agency will open simultaneously on Dec. 9, and the season will start with a tripleheader — Boston-New York, Chicago-L.A. Lakers and Miami-Dallas (a rematch of the NBA Finals) — on Dec. 25.
Both Stern and Hunter appeared visibly drained from the 15-hour bargaining session, which ended at 3 a.m. local time.
The ownership side was most pleased with added restrictions and more punitive tax rates on teams that exceed the luxury tax threshold, feeling the new system will ensure a greater degree of competitive balance than existed under the previous agreement. Also, the financial concessions made by the players could total as much as $3 billion over the next 10 years.
“It will largely prevent the high spending teams from competing in the free agent market the way they have in the past," deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. "The luxury tax is harsher than it was in the last deal, and we hope it’s effective. You never can be sure with how a new system will work, but we feel ultimately it will give fans in each community hope that they can compete for championships, and that their basis for believing in their team will be a function of management of that team, rather than how deep the owner's pockets are or how large the market is."
The deal also includes an amnesty provision, which will allow teams to cut one player from their roster whose salary will not fully count against the salary cap or luxury tax. Chris Bernucca has already written a column on the most likely amnesty candidates, so go ahead and click here to read it.
Also, if you want to know who the top 20 free agents are, Bernucca has you covered there, too, with this column.
There are going to be a lot of questions for all 30 teams, and that piece has been written too. Yep, Bernucca. Please follow him on Twitter. He only opened his account recently, and his follower count as of 6 a.m. EST is smaller than both the owners’ and players’ share of BRI.