LOS ANGELES — Labor peace is at hand.
On Friday, the NBA and the NBPA both ratified the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will run through the 2023-24 season.
That’s great news for basketball fans in general. A lockout has been averted.
It’s the specifics of the deal, as detailed by Basketball Insiders, that will both help and hurt the Los Angeles Lakers long term.
The advantage for L.A. is clear when it comes to keeping its own young, talented players. A normal rookie-scale extension is limited to four years, but the new agreement will allow the team to utilize two five-year designated player extensions, instead of just one.
Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram all have the potential to become All-Star-caliber players. Randle is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, followed by Russell and Ingram over the next two and three years, respectively.
As added incentive to stay with their incumbent franchises, designated players are also eligible for a higher salary scale if they qualify by earning timely awards like NBA Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year or make an All-NBA team.
Recent examples of players signing five-year deals coming off rookie contracts are Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers would have to decide which two of Randle, Russell and Ingram get the more lucrative offers, assuming all three emerge as stars. Regardless, the team still has the advantage as all three will become restricted free agents if extensions aren’t reached first.
On the other side of that coin, the Lakers aren’t likely to steal away another team’s star coming off their rookie-scale contract. The new deal only increases the likelihood that young talents stay home.
Rule changes could make it significantly more difficult for L.A. to land an established star via free agency or trade.
Currently, teams can only give out four additional years in veteran extensions. In the case of superstars, franchises have been limited to below-market offers.
For instance, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have the means under the rule to give Kevin Durant an extension before he hit free agency, opening the door for his departure to the Golden State Warriors.
The new CBA will allow teams to give out an additional five years and a larger bump in pay. Franchises are more likely to lock down good players for longer, earlier.
The NBA also created the “designated veteran” for the true stars of the league. Like the designated rookie, veterans entering their eighth or ninth season, who reach the aforementioned awards (like MVP) will be eligible for pay days as if they had at least 10 years of NBA experience.
For example: The Warriors’ Stephen Curry will be eligible to sign a five-year contract for more than $209 million this summer as a designated veteran, instead of $179 million under the existing rules.
The most anyone outside Golden State would be able to offer Curry is four years at roughly $133 million. A star might turn down a few million to change franchises, but $76 million?
Now, if Randle, Russell and/or Ingram …