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NBA, NBPA announce agreement on structure of 2020-21 season

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NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the NBPA voted to approve an NBA proposal to begin the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22. At the time, however, uncertainty loomed with regard to other crucial details for the upcoming campaign, leaving many to wonder how long the two sides would need to hammer out a final agreement. Just before midnight ET on Monday evening, the NBA and NBPA announced what is described as an “agreement in principle” for next season, with “adjustments to certain provisions of the collective bargaining agreement impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Among the details included in the announcement is the affirmation of Dec. 22 as the start date for the 2020-21 season, with a 72-game regular season schedule to follow. While the schedule will be finalized and announced at a later date, the agreement does outline “an agreed-upon split” of basketball-related income (BRI), with the potential for player salary escrow to rise beyond the 10 percent outlined in the CBA, rising to a maximum level of 20 percent for any season.

From there, the two sides agreed on a salary cap of $109.14 million for the 2020-21 season, with a luxury tax line of $132.627 million. In future campaigns, the agreement outlines an increase to the cap and tax of a “minimum of three percent and a maximum of ten percent,” with tax payments “reduced in proportion to any BRI decreases.”

For further clarity, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Adrian Wojnarowski explain, through sourcing, some of the ramifications of the alterations in tax burdens for some of the league’s franchises.

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.

While this is not yet official, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBA could open up its transaction window a few days prior to the NBA Draft.

Finally, the league announced that the league’s free agent window will officially open fewer than 48 hours after the 2020 NBA Draft. Players and teams are permitted to begin negotiating at 6 pm ET on Nov. 20, with players allowed to sign contracts beginning at 12:01 pm ET on Nov. 22.

None of the announced information is particularly shocking, especially given the slow drip of reporting in recent days and weeks. Still, this is the first official decree from the league on the outline of next season, with the Atlanta Hawks now able to plan with a rough schedule — in addition to salary cap and luxury tax numbers — in mind.

Stay tuned.