LOS ANGELES — Labor peace is at hand.
On Friday, the NBA and the NBPA both ratified the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will run through the 2023-24 season.
That’s great news for basketball fans in general. A lockout has been averted.
It’s the specifics of the deal, as detailed by Basketball Insiders, that will both help and hurt the Los Angeles Lakers long term.
The advantage for L.A. is clear when it comes to keeping its own young, talented players. A normal rookie-scale extension is limited to four years, but the new agreement will allow the team to utilize two five-year designated player extensions, instead of just one.
Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram all have the potential to become All-Star-caliber players. Randle is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, followed by Russell and Ingram over the next two and three years, respectively.
As added incentive to stay with their incumbent franchises, designated players are also eligible for a higher salary scale if they qualify by earning timely awards like NBA Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year or make an All-NBA team.
Recent examples of players signing five-year deals coming off rookie contracts are Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers would have to decide which two of Randle, Russell and Ingram get the more lucrative offers, assuming all three emerge as stars. Regardless, the team still has the advantage as all three will become restricted free agents if extensions aren’t reached first.
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On the other side of that coin, the Lakers aren’t likely to steal away another team’s star coming off their rookie-scale contract. The new deal only increases the likelihood that young talents stay home.
Rule changes could make it significantly more difficult for L.A. to land an established star via free agency or trade.
Currently, teams can only give out four additional years in veteran extensions. In the case of superstars, franchises have been limited to below-market offers.
For instance, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have the means under the rule to give Kevin Durant an extension before he hit free agency, opening the door for his departure to the Golden State Warriors.
The new CBA will allow teams to give out an additional five years and a larger bump in pay. Franchises are more likely to lock down good players for longer, earlier.
The NBA also created the “designated veteran” for the true stars of the league. Like the designated rookie, veterans entering their eighth or ninth season, who reach the aforementioned awards (like MVP) will be eligible for pay days as if they had at least 10 years of NBA experience.
For example: The Warriors’ Stephen Curry will be eligible to sign a five-year contract for more than $209 million this summer as a designated veteran, instead of $179 million under the existing rules.
The most anyone outside Golden State would be able to offer Curry is four years at roughly $133 million. A star might turn down a few million to change franchises, but $76 million?
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Now, if Randle, Russell and/or Ingram eventually reach that status, the Lakers will have the advantage to keep them in Los Angeles. In the meantime, they will be hard pressed to poach another team’s star.
To qualify for a designated veteran exception, the player must be with the same team for at least four years. Each franchise can sign two players to designated veteran contracts.
Armed with a greater ability to keep their own players, teams will be less likely to trade them with the threat of departure significantly diminished.
That the NBA will remain in action without interruption for years to come is great, but the new CBA appears to be a mixed bag for the Lakers.
Lakers Insider Notebook
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One omission from the new CBA could impact the Lakers. The deal does not include a one-time amnesty provision.
The 2011 agreement allowed for teams to waive a single player, wiping their salary from the team’s books. While that player would still earn their compensation, the rule helped teams open spending power under the salary cap or avoid significant luxury taxes.
Back in 2013, the Lakers used amnesty to waive Metta World Peace. By striking his $7.7 million salary from their payroll, they saved roughly $15 million in luxury taxes. World Peace was still paid and eventually re-signed with the team in both of last two offseasons.
Los Angeles won’t have that same amnesty provision in the new deal to clear either Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov from its cap. Deng will earn $54 million and Mozgov $48 million over the next three seasons, respectively.
Both may earn their keep, but if they don’t age well with the Lakers’ youthful core, the team will need to find other means to exit their contracts.
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One change that may benefit the Lakers is an increase in cash teams can send and receive in trade.
The current maximum is $3.5 million over the course of the year (from July 2016 to June 2017). That will grow in the new agreement to $5.1 million and will increase proportionately each season with the salary cap.
Armed with a lucrative local broadcast deal with Spectrum SportsNet, the Lakers are in a better position to send out over $5 million in cash than teams in smaller markets, who don’t take home nearly as much as the Lakers for their television rights.
That said, L.A. hasn’t sent out any cash in recent years, dating back to the $1.8 million it sent to the Washington Wizards in June 2014 to acquire the rights to Jordan Clarkson as the 46th overall pick.
As the Lakers grow from a rebuilding team into a playoff contender, the cash advantage may prove to be more of a significant factor.
Good News, Nance Out Only a Month
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Second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. needed help off the court Tuesday after suffering a left knee injury against the Charlotte Hornets.
The team’s initial statement Wednesday was vague, noting that Nance would be sidelined indefinitely but that the results were “inconclusive due to swelling in the knee.”
On Sunday, Nance was examined by Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health, confirming that the injury is indeed a bone bruise. The Lakers announced that Nance will need to sit approximately four weeks.
A month may be far from ideal, but Nance escaped what might have been a more extreme injury. While a bone bruise may be painful and lingering, it’s preferable to a season-ender like a ligament tear.
As a junior at Wyoming, Nance tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He recovered for his senior year but felt lingering soreness that eventually cost him games as a rookie with the Lakers.
Injuries have been an issue for the Lakers this season, losing D’Angelo Russell (knee) for 13 games, Jose Calderon for 12, Tarik Black (ankle) for 10, Nick Young (calf) for seven and Julius Randle (hip) for five. They started the year 10-10, and have since dropped to 12-22.
Nance has already sat out six games (a few with a concussion) and could miss another 14 should he return to action on January 25. The injury is also likely to scuttle Nance’s opportunity to participate in the NBA’s dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in mid-February.
The Lakers (12-22) will miss the do-everything forward. Expect veteran Luol Deng to pick up additional minutes at power forward. Thomas Robinson, who has been filling in as the team’s backup center, may also stay in the rotation once Black returns to health.
Kupchak Excited for New Practice Facility
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The Lakers are getting ready for a big move.
No, not necessarily a trade. This summer, the Lakers will move the franchise a few blocks in El Segundo to the UCLA Health Training Center.
“It’s spectacular. It’s glass and steel and has a great look to it,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “We’re hoping that it gets opened this season but I don’t think we’ll move into until the offseason, maybe June, maybe July. If you drive by there now and it will look like it’s almost done.”
The entire organization, roughly 300 people, will be housed in the new facility.
“Right now, we’re between two or three buildings and it kind of works but it would be a lot better if we were all together,” Kupchak said. “I’ve seen a lot of facilities the last [few] weeks. I travel a little bit with the team and there’s going to be nothing like this anywhere in the NBA.”
In addition to two full-sized courts, the practice center will include a video screening room, player lounge, barber shop, kitchen, garden, multiple pools and weight and training rooms, along with space for the team’s front office and sales departments.
“It’s really going to be a gem of a facility,” Kupchak said.
All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats are accurate as of December 25. Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.