The NBA and players’ union have reached an agreement in principle on the start of the 2020-21 season, as well as an amended collective bargaining agreement, the two sides announced Monday night.
The deal calls for free agency to begin at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 20, two days after next week’s NBA draft.
As was agreed to last week, the regular season will begin Dec. 22, and the schedule will be 72 games.
The salary cap is going to be set at $109.1 million, and the luxury tax will be $132.6 million — the same numbers they were during the 2019-20 season, before the league’s finances took a drastic hit as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Teams had been expecting both numbers to remain the same next season for some time now, as it was better for both the teams and the players to avoid a massive drop in the salary cap for next season because of the unplanned drop in revenue.
The salary cap is going to be guaranteed to go up by a minimum of 3% per year — and a maximum of 10% — through the remainder of the collective bargaining agreement.
The two sides also came up with a compromise on the escrow system to spread the losses out across multiple seasons. The typical escrow withholding of 10% will remain in place. If there is a need to reduce player salaries by more than that 10%, that loss will be spread out over that season, as well as the following two — and players can never have more than 20% of their salary withheld in a single season. The hope on both sides is that future seasons will see the league be able to return to normal financial footing as the pandemic subsides.
Sources also said that, in an attempt to ease the tax burdens of teams that had been planning on the salary cap and luxury tax continuing to steadily rise, the NBA will reduce the luxury tax bill for teams at the end of the 2021 season by the percentage amount that the league’s Basketball Related Income declines from initial projections.
For example, if it drops from a projected $8.45 billion to $5.9 billion — a 30% decline — the Golden State Warriors’ projected luxury tax bill would be reduced from $60 million to $42 million.
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