Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Changes In The Association This Season

Today the NBA announced two important sets of changes for the 2011-12 season: one impacting on-court play, and one impacting off-court business matters. Both developments are positive, in my view.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement contains tweaks to numerous league protocols. Notably, the new CBA allows a player to renegotiate an existing contract for lower annual money but more years, if the annual salary reduction is no more than 40%. This provision would allow, say, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to take a bit less money in 2012-13 and beyond in order to create more salary-cap room for the Knicks to sign Chris Paul or another top free agent. [Reports Thursday indicate that the Knicks intend to sign Tyson Chandler to a large long-term contract that would cover 2012-13 and beyond. The contracts of those three guys would eat up most of the $58 MM salary cap. Theoretically, all three of Chandler, Stoudemire, and Anthony could agree to reduce their salaries sufficiently to make room for Paul at a large number; perhaps each of them could earn $13 MM annually, say.]

The new deal also sets the minimum team salary at (after a couple years of transition) 90 percent of the salary cap, rather than 75 percent. This provision will help further the goal of competitive balance; cheap owners such as Donald Sterling or Glen Taylor will be forced to hire at least a few middling (as opposed to terrible or very young) players to fill out their roster.

The contentious minimum age for draftees was not changed, but apparently punted to be decided by a future union-league committee. I have previously advocated in this space for the age limit to be raised to two years post-college.

The previously over-generous shooting fouls granted in "rip-through" or "and-one" situations, wherein the shooter was clearly not in a shooting motion before the foul, will be curtailed. Travelling rules will be enforced more strictly (LeBron James's "crab dribble", which we reviewed in this post in 2009, will no longer be legal) and timeouts will be made to conform to the billed 20-second or 60-second lengths. Here at JPO, we have long criticized inconsistent rule enforcement, and this news begets great happification in our hearts.

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