After two delays, more than 35 players are expected to sign contracts amounting to more than $800 million when the NBA's moratorium on free agent signings and trades is finally lifted at noon Tuesday. The NBA and the players' union signed and ratified a six-year agreement early yesterday and set the date for when former Wizards guard Larry Hughes can officially sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and former No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown can sign with the Wizards and immediately be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins.
The league and the players' association agreed in principle to the deal on June 21, but lawyers for both sides worked to complete drafting the documents for the past few weeks. Teams will be educated on the details of the agreement in the next few days.
As part of the agreement, the NBA will set the salary cap for the 2005-06 season at $49.5 million -- up from $43.8 million the past two seasons. And for the first time, teams will know the luxury tax threshold before the season. Teams with payrolls over $61.7 million will have to pay the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. Before, teams found out after the season.
The new collective bargaining agreement includes a one-time amnesty clause that will allow teams to cut one player from its roster to avoid paying the luxury tax. Dallas's Michael Finley and New York's Allan Houston have been mentioned as players expected to be released. As a concession to the union, the league has pushed up the deadline to release a player from Oct. 1 to Aug. 15.
Other provisions include raising the minimum age requirement from 18 to 19 (players from the United States must also be one year removed from high school and foreign players must turn 19 during the calendar year of the draft) and allowing teams to assign players in their first two seasons to the NBA developmental league.
Players are also guaranteed to receive at least 57 percent of basketball-related income and a reduction in maximum-length contracts from seven years to six, and the maximum annual increases in salaries have been reduced to 10.5 percent from 12.5 percent. Also, veterans are subject to four random drug tests during the season.
The mid-level exception, which can be offered only by teams over the salary cap, will be $5 million for the upcoming season. The minimum team salary is $37.125 million.
NBA Notes: A league source confirmed yesterday that the NBA will announce this week that Las Vegas will be the site of the 2007 All-Star Game, marking the first time the event will be held in a non-NBA city. The 2006 All-Star Game will be in Houston.