The NBA and the NBPA have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for months now, but so far, no deal has been reached. The current deal lasts through the end of the 2023-24 season, but both sides have the right to opt out of it by Friday, March 31, which is now just two days away. The two sides are expected to negotiate until the final buzzer, but according to commissioner Adam Silver during his press conference following Wednesday's board of governors meeting, the league does intend to opt out of the CBA by June 30 if no deal is reached by midnight on March 31. There is the possibility that the deadline could be extended, but Silver referred to it as hypothetical.
Tamika Tremaglio, the executive director of the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association), made it clear after Silver's press conference that the league does not intend to opt out of the CBA. She released the following statement: "The March 31st deadline is an important benchmark, and we are doing everything in our power to reach an agreement with the league. If we don't have a deal and the league decides to opt out, it will be disappointing considering all the work both sides have put into the negotiations, and the fair nature of our requests. As far as our fans are concerned, it will be business as usual. Games will continue uninterrupted. The NBPA however dones not intend to opt out.
Silver claimed that he "can foresee" a new CBA getting done by Friday, but that "there still is a gap, though, between where we feel we need to be in order to get a deal done." If the NBA does indeed opt out of the CBA and a new deal isn't reached before June 30, all league business would grind to a halt at that point. With no CBA in place, teams could not sign or trade players. Potentially, this could lead to a lockout that costs the league games.
For now, that appears to be unlikely. All reports have indicated that the two sides have negotiated in good faith thus far, and given the money at stake in a possible deal, both sides should be motivated to get it done. Without knowing the specifics of the negotiations, there are a number of significant issues the league and its players need to agree on before a deal can be reached:
- The league has reportedly tried to institute an upper spending limit to prevent teams like the Warriors and Clippers from racking up payrolls that are tens of millions of dollars higher than the rest of the league's. Reports have indicated that the league has softened its stance on this somewhat, but that the league's luxury tax structure could be altered to make it harder for teams to spend as much as the Warriors and Clippers have.
- The league would like to come up with a way to ensure that star players participate in more games. Load-management has become a major issue in recent years, with players frequently missing nationally televised games and fans feeling cheated when they purchase tickets to see players who don't suit up.
- A new media rights deal (which has not yet been negotiated) is expected to increase league revenue significantly ahead of the 2025-26 season, but after the 2016 cap spike led to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, the league is expected to push for some form of cap smoothing.
- There have been ongoing negotiations about lowering the minimum age for entry into the NBA Draft back down to 18, where it was until 2006.
- While there has been little reporting on this issue, both players and teams are seemingly motivated to tweak the league's current rules governing contract extensions, which limits most players to a 20% raise in the first year of a new deal. This has made certain players, who have outperformed their contracts, almost unextendable even if both sides want to come to a new agreement.
The NBA's revenue has grown so high that neither side is likely to force the issue of a work stoppage. There are billions of dollars at stake for all parties involved. However, the league and the union have pushed this deadline multiple times now. A deal should get done, but that feels far less certain today than it did a few months ago.