Coursing through the reports by writers on the lockout beat (primarily Howard Beck, Ken Berger, Chris Sheridan and Adrian Wojnarowski) is a theme that some issues have been solved in the CBA talks, even if the big ones remain. It appears the players and owners have tentatively agreed to, or are close to agreement on, a number of "system issues", some that would permit teams to subtract salaries and one, a revised MLE, that would permit them to add salaries.
Here's the basics.
--A one-time amnesty. Both Beck and Berger report the amnesty deal is done. Beck in fact writes, "There will be a one-time "amnesty" provision that will allow each team to waive a player (with pay) without his salary counting against the salary cap (emphasis added)." Berger wrote earlier in the week that the amnesty is not complete: "Under the league's amnesty proposal, sources say teams would be able to waive a player and have up to 75 percent of his contract removed from the cap and tax, with the remaining balance amortized against the cap over the number of years left on the contract." In the case of, say, Travis Outlaw, who's owed an even $28 million, his salary would be carried on the books at $1.75 million per year (rather than $7 million) over the next four years. All reporting on the amnesty provision indicates that only one player per team will be eligible for amnesty.
However, Wojnarowski reported, also earlier in the week, there is some disagreement on how the players waived will get paid: "The biggest hurdle left in discussions for the new amnesty clause, sources told Y! Sports, is how long teams will have to pay the player the money owed him. Will it be over two years, five years, seven years?" The union wants waived players to get as much upfront as possible; the owners want to stretch it out.
--A "stretch" exception. Beck reports, again with certainty that the exception "will be available every year, allowing teams to waive players and stretch out their remaining salary over a number of seasons, thus reducing the annual salary-cap hit." There's little detail on this one, but it seems like a way for owners to absolve themselves of mistakes down the road. Sheridan reports the cap hit could be extended out for seven years, giving teams a lot more latitude in moving players. "In theory, this would free up more money to be paid to players who were worthy of the increased salary."
Matt Moore of NBC Sports writes of the stretch: "It means that owners will be able to get out of those terrible contracts that they give out. It also means that you’re going to see players making money from several teams in a season. That happens now, but it will increase." Similarly, Ira Winderman, who covers the Heat for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, argues the combination could lead to "a golden era of cheap labor (at least for players’ new teams)" unless the league tacks on restrictions.
One question that has particularly relevance for the Nets: when would this exception first be available? This season or next?
--A revised mid-level exception. Beck writes the number is $5 million, down from the current $5.8 million, "but more than double what the owners were seeking. The parties are still wrangling over contract length and annual raises attached to the exception." Again, Beck writes the MLE "will be set".
Woj wrote of the MLE as well: "In previous days, the owners and players agreed on starting the midlevel exception at $4.8 million. The sides had differed on the length of contracts teams could offer players with the exception, as well as the percentage of annual increase. The players were willing to reduce the maximum length of midlevel deals from five years to four, but the owners wanted the length dropped to three years."
Specifically, writes Sheridan, "Yes, the sides have agreed that the maximum mid-level exception should be $5 million, but the owners want it to max out at $15 million over three years (no annual raises), while the union wants the maximum mid-level to be for four years, with 7 or 8 percent annual raises depending on the length of the contract."
--Restricted Free Agency modifications. Under the current CBA, teams have seven days to match an offer for a restricted free agent, during which time that money is tied up. Sheridan reports the two sides are near a deal on changes here, too: "The owners have acquiesced, and the window for matching will be reduced to 3 or 4 days. The union also is asking that restricted free agency be removed for players coming off their rookie scale contracts, which would allow first-round picks to become unrestricted after four years instead of five, which is the case for second-round picks." IF that's put into force immediately, it would require the Nets to make an early decision on Brook Lopez.
--A "bonus pool" of money for high-achieving young players. This has been reported only by Woj. He reported, "Under the [owners] proposal, players would be rewarded for winning Rookie of the Year and making All-Star teams and other accomplishments". The union, on the other hand, wants young stars who've "out-earned their rookie-scale contracts" to have quicker access to more lucrative extensions, Woj reported.
--Trade rules. Changes to the trade rules are still in flux, reports Sheridan, but provides details on where the two parties stand: "Under the old system, the salaries of players being traded had to be within 125 percent of each other (if both trading teams were over the salary cap). This rule will be loosened considerably, although a final formula has not been agreed to. The players want the percentage to rise to 225 percent (whereby, for instance, a player making $1 million could be traded for a player making $2.25 million), while the owners have indicated a willingness to allow the percentage to rise to 140 or 150 percen."
What's not agreed to? That's easy, the BRI split, the luxury tax system, contract lengths and maximums, etc.,etc.