New CBA: Breaking down B-list items

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter broke down the deal details in a letter to players on Wednesday. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Electronic voting is underway in the NBA, with players granted a window that began Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET and runs through Thursday at 4 p.m. to ratify or reject the tentative labor agreement between the owners and NBA Players Association.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter urged union members to vote in favor of the new deal as part of a letter dispatched Wednesday to all players breaking down the terms of the labor pact in detail.

"The NBPA Executive Committee recommends that the players vote to ratify the proposed CBA," Hunter wrote in the letter, obtained by ESPN.com and other media outlets.

"Although the players made significant financial concessions, including taking a reduced share of Basketball Related Income (BRI), collective salaries will nonetheless increase over the course of the CBA. The players retained important system issues and achieved gains on non-economic issues."

ESPN.com's breakdown of the freshly negotiated "B-list" items added to the deal since Hunter's original term sheet distributed to players on Nov. 26, along with several significant changes from the previous collective bargaining agreement, follows here:

Drug testing

The following rules are being implemented, per Hunter's memo:

• Beginning in 2012-13, players can be tested during the offseason for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs only. Offseason drug testing was prohibited under the previous CBA.

• The number of tests is limited to two for any player during the offseason and the majority of players can receive no more than four tests during the course of an entire year. Under the previous CBA, drug testing was limited to four times per player and only during the season.

• Players may not be tested at the arena on game nights. This limitation did not exist under the previous CBA.


Hunter's memo Wednesday specified the following D-League rules:

• Players with three years of service or less can be assigned to the D-League. (It was two years' experience in the previous CBA.)

• A player can be assigned to the D-League an unlimited number of times after a limit of three in the previous CBA.

• Players continue to receive their NBA salary while assigned to the D-League. This was also the case under the previous CBA, but ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher reported recently that the league was pushing for players to be paid at D-League salary rates while under assignment.

• Players with more than three years' experience can be assigned to the D-League -- for example, for injury rehabilitation -- but only when the player and the union request the assignment. Under the previous CBA, players with more than two years' experience could not be assigned to the D-League no matter what.


• The league and teams cannot discipline a player solely because of an arrest. (Although there was no rule in place before, it has been the league's practice to discipline players only after a conviction. The new rule will mimic this practice.)

• The league will provide NBPA with team rules for all 30 teams. The union can challenge any team rule it feels is unreasonable or not applied fairly.

• Any discipline from NBA commissioner David Stern for on-court misconduct is now subject to neutral review. Under the previous CBA, suspensions of 12 games or fewer were at Stern's final discretion.

Wireless microphones

Hunter's memo specified a number of rule changes related to players wearing wireless microphones during games.

• Players can be asked to wear microphones for no more than one nationally televised game per month, one locally televised game per month and up to two playoff games per round. There was no limitation under the previous CBA.

• The player must consent before the content can be aired live. This is similar to the previous CBA, where the player had to consent to wearing the microphone and could remove it at any time.

• Players cannot be subject to discipline based on what they say while they or another player wears a microphone. The memo, however, made no mention to whether this extends to microphones not worn by a player, meaning players could likely still be disciplined for things picked up by other microphones on the floor.

Salary cap and team salaries

The sides agreed Nov. 26 to increase the minimum team salary from 75 percent of the cap to 85 percent in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and 90 percent thereafter. In Hunter's Wednesday memo to the players, minimum team salary drops to 80 percent, giving teams more time to transition to the higher salary requirements.

Contracts and player salaries

• A new "renegotiation and extension" provision allows an existing contract to be renegotiated so the player is paid a smaller amount over a longer period, but the player's salary cannot decrease by more than 40 percent. Renegotiations previously could only increase a player's salary.

• The sides previously agreed to what has been nicknamed the "Derrick Rose Rule," which allows franchise-level players to receive a higher maximum salary (30 percent of the cap instead of 25 percent) starting in their fifth year. Hunter's latest memo further specifies that these contracts must be at least four years in length.

• Signing bonuses have been reduced slightly. The previous CBA allowed signing bonuses of 17.5 percent in offer sheets to restricted free agents or 20 percent in other contracts. The limits are now 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively, as per Wednesday's term sheet.

• Bonuses have always been classified as either "likely" or "unlikely," depending on whether the player met the bonus criteria in the previous season and with unlikely bonuses not counting against the team's salary cap. In the previous CBA, unlikely bonuses were limited to 25 percent of the player's base salary. In Hunter's memo, this limit is reduced to 15 percent.

• The sides agreed Nov. 26 to freeze the minimum salary scale and the rookie salary scale at or near their 2010-11 levels until they are reduced by 12 percent in relation to the increases in the overall system. In Hunter's memo these scales begin to increase in 2013-14.

• Teams were previously allowed to pay players over either six or 12 months. An 18-month pay schedule will be allowed now if the deal is ratified.

• Under the previous CBA, players could receive up to 80 percent of their annual salary in advance (prior to Oct. 1). Per Hunter's memo, this percentage has been reduced to 50 percent.

Restricted free agents

• The Nov. 26 agreement provided restricted free agents with larger "qualifying offers" (contract offers from the player's original team, which secured the team's right of first refusal) if they met "starter criteria," which they defined as starting an average of 41 games per season or averaging 2,000 minutes per season. Hunter's memo refines these starter criteria, explaining that a player needs to meet the starter criteria either in the previous season or over the average of the two previous seasons.

• The size of a qualifying offer for a minimum salary player will be increased slightly in the new deal. In the previous agreement, it was the minimum salary plus $175,000. Now it would be the minimum salary plus $200,000.

Trade rules

In the previous CBA, teams could receive a maximum of $3 million cash in any trade. The Nov. 26 agreement changed this limit to $3 million per year. Hunter's memo specified that the $3 million limit will grow by 3 percent each year -- meaning it will rise to $3.09 million next season -- and that the amount is not netted. Translation: Cash received in trade does not offset cash sent to other teams in trade.

International players

• In the previous CBA, NBA teams could spend up to $500,000 to buy players out of contracts with overseas teams, with the buyout amount not counted toward the salary cap. The buyout amount in the proposed new deal will increase by $25,000 each season.

• The international player buyout rules, per Hunter's memo, also apply to U.S. players playing overseas. For example, an NBA team will be able to pay a Chinese team up to $500,000 to release an NBA player who signed in China during the lockout, such as Wilson Chandler or J.R. Smith. Without a buyout, these players will be unable to return to the NBA until the end of the Chinese Basketball Association season (the last game of the finals is set for March 30).

Miscellaneous changes

• Increases in compensation during training camp to $2,000 per week beginning in 2012-13.

• Increases in per diem (to $120), promotional appearance fees, housing allowance for traded players ($4,500 for three months following a trade) and compensation for All-Star participation.

• Sixteen full days off per season with no games, practices or team meetings.

• Beginning in 2012-13, players will have the option to participate in a new annuity plan with favorable interest rates.

Issues to be decided later

A number of issues cannot be resolved in time to enable business to resume by Friday and the season to start by Dec. 25. The league and union will form committees to discuss further changes to the following areas:

• The NBA draft.

• The D-League.

• The age limit.

• Players' working conditions, including the number of off days, access to NBA facilities during the offseason, minimizing the impact of back-to-backs, and limiting two-a-day practices during training camps.

• Human growth hormone (HGH) testing.

Larry Coon is the author of the NBA Salary Cap FAQ. Follow him on Twitter.

Marc Stein is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.