ESPN and Turner have exclusive negotiating rights with the NBA until next year and apparently have agreed to spend big in order to keep other networks — Fox Sports and NBC, specifically — out of the running. Last month, Sports Business Journal reported that the new deal would maintain the status quo between ESPN and Turner: ESPN would retain the rights to the NBA Finals, while Turner would continue to air NBA games on Thursday nights and keep the rights to the NBA All-Star Game.
The massive influx of cash from the new deal will almost certainly have an effect on the relationship between the league and its players, who will will seek to get their fair share. Free agents such as LeBron James have agreed to shorter deals on purpose as anticipation of this new television contract grew. Plus, the new television contract is almost certain to come up after the 2016-17 season, when either side may opt out of the collective bargaining agreement that was signed in 2011.