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The Strange Underbelly of the New CBA Proposal

It's an early Christmas here at Clips Nation, not just because the lockout is nearly over but because we're filled with expectation. Will Santa Neil bring gifts and leave them under the tree for Clipper fans? Will we finally get that shiny small forward we've been wanting forever? What about a real point guard? How about big ol' Dwight Howard? Better than a pony, right?! Not only are we excited about the start of the free agency and this defacto trading season but it seems like a lot of long lost sisters and brothers are finally returning home. Some of the Clips Nation family have been missing for a while, (off fighting in those foreign wars) and are finally wandering in, warming up by the fire. Nice to see you back, old friend, got any gum?

Eh. There's tons of stuff out there on the proposed CBA. Everyone seems to be writing about the deal points and how they'll affect individual players and teams. Larry Coon, the master of the old CBA goes over the big points here. I mean, who better? He mentions the "banded" BRI, amnesty, "stretch" waivers, max years, max raises, etc. But the things that fascinate me in the proposal are the subtle little tidbits scattered throughout the document that seem a little strange, unexpected, vaguely diabolical... sometimes flat out comical or just plain puzzling. I thought it would be interesting to take a look.

I'm using the leaked document published by Sam Amick and I'm going point by point for as long as I stay interested. Follow along if you like.

1. The BRI split. Yeah, first year is 51.5 percent. Fine. And the salaries will be pro-rated for number of games missed. Or will they? Henry Abbott wrote this interesting article... because the players will get the 51.5 split, and because the bulk of eyeballs and filled seats happen AFTER Christmas, the players won't lose nearly as much money as those "pro-rated games". Forget that 66/82 stuff. Bunk.

2. Salary cap and tax system. I'm sorry, all this stuff is fine. But the new tax doesn't start for two years. Call me in 2013.

But there's more stuff in here, especially if you're a fan of the cheapskate Clippers: The minimum payroll goes from 75% to 85% this year and 90% in year three. You can no longer sit on your dough, Donald Sterling.

And there another little bullet point in here as well, something easy to overlook: "• A maximum of 50% of Tax payments in any season can be directed exclusively to non-taxpayers."
Uh. Say what? What happens to the other fifty percent? (I have a hunch it will go to Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver, Michael Jordan, et al... small market owners. So, after the teams under the cap take their cut, all the have-nots sweep up the rest... even if they're over the cap. I mean, who else would get it? Not the players. The owners aren't going to give it to an orphanage or a hospital, right? So, who else?)
It might be my own paranoia but who are the owners hiding from here? This was a deal memo sent to the players, right? You know, their partners.

3. Guarantee/Escrow. The owners will hold ten-percent of salaries in escrow. I thought the 10% was too high, but it turns out it was ten percent back in 2006 and was only reduced to 8% the last two years. Last year the player's got all the money back, but in 2008-9 (a ten percent year), the players got nothing back. So the ten percent number is probably correct.
But the part of this item that really baffles me and might be one of those "moral hazards" Fearless Leader talks about is the last line of this item: "Parties also to agree on provision to protect the NBA in case of a significant drop in revenues."
Really? What about all that talk about how the owners making the big money because they take all the risks? Now the owners want the players to share in the risks. What risks? "Hey Carmelo, hey Gomes! This is why they cut your salary twelve percent?" Yecch.

4. Maximum Length of Contracts. Seems easy, five years for Bird player, 4 years for others. But then we enter the woods: "Maximum of 4 new years for rookie extensions (except maximum of 5 new years for a maximum-salary Designated Player rookie extension – team can have only 1 Designated Player on its roster at any time)."
I've already argued about this in light of the fact that the Clippers have two players coming into their rookie extensions and only one can get five years. Too bad for you, Eric Gordon. Fearless Leader eloquently explains the workaround for this here but why is this in the deal at all? Why can't a team have two five year rookie extensions? Why cripple a team with two good young players? Bah humbug. THIS is diabolical.

I'm so upset I'm skipping the next bunch of bullet points.

7. Maximum Salaries: "...any player in his 5th year (e.g., following his rookie scale contract) is eligible to receive from his own team a maximum salary contract that provides for a starting salary of up to 30 percent of the Salary Cap, provided he has met one of the following criteria: (i) named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team two times, (ii) voted in as an All-Star starter two times, or (iii) named NBA MVP one time."
So, the owners decided that they weren't qualified to decide which players to give the max (they were thinking of you, Rashard) so they've established goals that would determine who should be paid the most! This is great, no really! So, in your first five years you have to be an all star starter twice? That sounds easy. Wait. The fans vote for the all star starters, don't they? But the fans are idiots. I hate this rule. Blake Griffin hates this rule. Even worse, Kevin Durant hates this deal (because Russell Westbrook could be making $3 million more than he is in a couple of years. Ziller has that here.)

I'm even more upset now and I'm skipping the next eight points. All you really need to know in there is that the stretch provision seems nice, the reduction in time for offer sheets is necessary, the Qualifying Offers have been tweaked for the better. There's also stuff in here about sign-and-trades and extension-and-trades that I'm not smart enough to understand and if you want to study the pretty weird Amnesty auction waiver stuff, take a look at Clipper Steve's post here. Let's just take a quick look at the last two points in the doc:

16. Revenue Sharing:"The NBA will commit to maintaining during each year of the CBA the revenue sharing plan that the NBA has described to the Players Association."
In other words, "We told the players about our plan but the rest of you reading this leaked document can go soak your heads." Pretty sure the owner's big time revenue-sharing plan is the other fifty percent of the luxury tax. See item #2. Am I the only one who thinks this is weak stuff?

17. Term of Agreement - Ten years unless neither side is happy, then it's six. No way this thing makes it to 2021. It has more mismatched band-aids than a kindergartner after a bike accident.