How the proposed CBA would affect Paul and the Hornets (Part Two)

Published: May 15, 2011

In part one, we touched on some key parts of the proposed CBA that most fans are familiar with, a hard cap and a franchise tag. In part two, we are going to look at some of the more obscure, but equally important, parts of the CBA that the league is trying to get the players to sign off on. As in part one, we will also talk about how these changes would affect the Hornets and how likely they are to occur.

3. Reduction of Current Salaries

How it would work: This season, a little over 2 billion dollars was spent on players salaries. The league wants to cut that number significantly. What the league has proposed in the new CBA is an immediate reduction in players salaries; slashing them either 15, 20, or 25 percent, depending on what salary bracket they fit into. From what I have heard, salaries under 6 million would be slashed 15%, 6-11 million would be slashed 20%, and anything over 11 million would be slashed 25%.

How it would affect the Hornets: The Hornets currently have just five players under contract for next year (6 if West opts-in). Of those contracts, two would fit in the 15% bracket (Q-Pon and Jack), two would fit in the 20% bracket (Ariza and West), and two would fit in the 25% bracket. In total, the Hornets payroll would decrease by nearly 11 million dollars next year if this went into effect. Emeka would be hit hardest by this, as his contract would go from a 3 year/40 million dollar deal to 3 years/30 million.

While fans might think this is a blessing for the Hornets, I actually believe this is the change we should root hardest against. Yes, the Hornets get some savings and more room, but so does EVERY other team, and most of those teams have far worse contracts than the Hornets. The Knicks, for example, have nearly 45 million dollars tied up in Melo and Amare in 2013-14 (the first year of the proposed 55 million dollar hard cap). If this goes through, that gets slashed by more than 11 million dollars, and now they would have the money to add another max guy. Same goes for teams like LA and Memphis, who have given out some stupid contracts lately. It lets them off the hook. The Hornets don’t really have any horrible contracts, so this doesn’t help them as much as it helps others.

Likelihood that the players agree: 2 Percent

If the league and the owners are hell-bent on getting this from the players, then we are in for a long lockout. There is no way that the players should be penalized for the contracts that the owners agree to, and there really isn’t much precedent for this in other CBA negotiations. Yes, the system is broken, but you can’t retroactively change contracts that were agreed to under another CBA. If the owners draw a line in the sand and say “Take 75 percent or take nothing”, then the players will take 75 percent. But that will only come after the NBA cancels the 2011-12 season. Doomsday scenario.

4. Amnesty Clause

How it would work: Very similar to the amnesty clause that was given to each team after the previous lockout. Basically, a team can waive a player no matter how much they have left on their contract WITHOUT that money counting against the luxury tax (and in the case of a hard cap, the salary cap). The team still has to pay the player his money, but it simply won’t count against their cap. Good article here on some possible amnesty clause casualties.

How it would affect the Hornets: There are actually a couple ways this amnesty clause can play out. In the last agreement, the team could only use it immediately, but there were several owners who pushed for it to be a one-time thing that can be used any time. If it is the same as last time, I doubt the Hornets use it on Okafor because a small market team simply cannot afford to dump 40 million dollars down the drain. Marc Cuban can, and he did last time by releasing Michael Finley and paying the 51.8 million he was owed. Small market teams or teams who don’t have mega-rich owners can’t do that.

But if the league says that it can be used at any time, I could envision a scenario in which the Hornets use it on Emeka prior to the 2013-14 season, when he is due 14 million and a hard cap is set to come into play. That would make sense, as it would be ridiculous for a past-his-prime Okafor to be taking up 25% of your cap space.

Likelihood that the Players agree: 99.99999 percent

Who loses here? The player still gets his full amount AND gets to sign with another team. The owners get to right a prior wrong. The only thing to work out here is how this thing should work. To be fair to all teams, I think it should be able to be used at ANY time, as long as the player was under contract with the current team at the time the new CBA went into place. Therefore, you can not sign a guy after the new CBA, knowing that if he bombs that you can cut him, but Atlanta can amnesty Joe Johnson four years from now if they want to.

5. Partially Guaranteed Contracts

How it would work: In a lot of ways, this goes hand in hand with the hard cap, but not necessarily so. While it is true that it would be hard to have fully guaranteed deals and a hard cap, it could work. Basically, the NBA wants to ensure that teams are not forced to pay for a salary they negotiated three years ago if the player can no longer perform today. Therefore, much like we see in the NFL, players will be guaranteed only part of their salaries each year and the team will have the option whether to pay them the rest, re-negotiate, or release them.

How it would affect the Hornets: Much like the hard cap, the biggest pro for the Hornets if this were to pass, would be the fact that it would make them more enticing to a perspective buyer. Again, this is another way of limiting costs, and business owners love to have that in place.

Likelihood that players agree: 80 percent

Billy Hunter has stated that guaranteed contracts are the “lifeblood” of professional basketball and it is something that they don’t want to give up, but they will likely have to. The owners will likely have to concede the reduction of current salaries in order to get this, and perhaps they will give up a bigger piece of the overall pie as well, but the bottom line is that it just doesn’t make sense that Rashard Lewis, Michael Redd, Andrei Kirilinko, Gilbert Arenas, and Yao Ming were all in the top 10 in player salaries this season.

As long as that money goes to other players (and not owners), I don’t think the union will have a huge problem with giving in here.

Final Thoughts

I know that reading about this is not as fun as speculating on trades or free agent signings, but honestly, this is far more important, especially to Hornets fans. If the CBA breaks the right way, not only do we have a season to look forward to, but we likely will have a new owner on the way, a means to making a better offer to CP3, and a way to significantly improve the roster. If the old CBA were to stay in place, it would be a long shot for any of those things to occur. In all likelihood, we would be looking at the Larry Ellison owned San Jose Hornets, minus CP3, building from scratch.

And that is why I keep writing about the CBA, even though everyone from Ryan to the editors at ESPN advise me not to. I love hearing from all of you on this topic as well, be it questions, difference of opinions, whatever. Chime in.


  1. 42

    May 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I’m with you, Mr. McNamara.

    At some point, you have to put the important stuff out there.

    Besides, we have something other folks don’t: An intelligent community. Compared to other fora, more folks here are eager to learn and appreciate the opportunities to learn about the reality and totality of professional basketball, rather than just discussing in the absense of facts.

    Anyone who gives a second thought about the Heat should care about the CBA, like them or not. Anyone whose team may relocate, needs an arena, has an aging owner, should care about the CBA. Anyone who’s reluctant to plunk down money for a jersey before the season because your favorite player may get traded should care about the CBA. This isn’t because the Heat, relocations, and trades / free agency are bad (we now have a relocated team after our team left); this is because it’s best to know as much as possible about these things.

    • paul

      May 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      The only problem is this is a whole lot like politics.
      Oh, sure, it’s so imprtant that we all understand that we MUST read everything, listen to everybody…then vote.
      But in reality, it doesn’t matter.
      You really don’t count. Not against the mass movement and changes of the social winds.
      Thoughts take hold like fires do in dry forest.
      Just get out of the way.
      When you see an army coming, learn their language…it’s not really worth the cultural war.

      And here it is all over again, but in the coat of professional sports…so it’s even LESS important. A bunch of private owners fighting with over paid employees, who don’t make anything but entertainment.

      I guess what I am trying to say is I care, but don’t give a damn. A curse on both their houses. They don’t care about me so just like holyweird golden children…just act and leave me out of your personal stuff.
      Act or don’t act.
      Play basketball or don’t. Somehow we will all still get along…and find out we have been missing out on something(s) along the way.

      • 42

        May 17, 2011 at 12:45 am

        You said it, paul.

      • Michael McNamara

        May 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

        I agree with some of this, but using this same philosophy, there is no need to read about or talk about possible free agent signings, trades, rotation decisions, etc. We have no say in any of those things either. We don’t count there, as you say.

        There are plenty of people who just show up at the game or just watch it on the TV and then don’t give it another thought until the next one, and that is fine. But for those who discuss and educate themselves about all the other uncontrollable surrounding factors, the CBA is just another one of those. Perhaps the biggest of them all.

      • paul

        May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm


        You’re right.
        I was just in one of my down swings.
        Up then middle then down at the bottom…then reverse.
        I seems to have been a little bitter there and do realize that small talk is still talk.
        I should not express my gloominess at times and just read and enjoy the small talk.
        I mean, I am an artist at small talk and just sitting arounfd the fire with drinks….and none of it really means shit.
        The real meaning is that we monkies need our banter and small talk to have as a release from the normal terrors.
        Os, like you say, it’s is just fun.
        Again, I appologize.

  2. edbballin504

    May 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I am okay with most of the changes the league wants to make. IMO, there’s alot of broken areas in the current CBA that are being addressed and fixed here. I just hope the league and players can agree to a deal ASAP so that the fans wont suffer from a lockout. Maybe a lockout until Jan is acceptable in order for both sides to be happy, but a season long lockout would be a hard pill to swallow.

    The only area I do not like in this proposal is the “franchise tag.” I don’t think it accomplishes what it’s intended to accomplish. A superstar wont care about an extra year and a few extra million dollars. There has to be a bigger way to impact these stars decisions. “What?” is the million dollar question.

  3. saZam

    May 16, 2011 at 3:15 am

    I like the talk about the negotiations. I want to know whats going on.

  4. NolaHog

    May 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I too, enjoy talking about the CBA stuff.

  5. Justinho

    May 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    “In all likelihood, we would be looking at the Larry Ellison owned San Jose Hornets, minus CP3, building from scratch.”

    WE would certainly not be looking at that. 😉

    And count me in the number that appreciated the summation of the CBA happenings. One of the more fascinating things at play here is comparing how different this labor (dis)agreement is from the one the NFL is facing right now. IMO seeing how backwards a lot the current NBA CBA is puts it in perspective as to how good the NFL had it.

    It’ll also be important to keep in mind when forming any potential opinions on the matter that many of the dynamics in the situations simply don’t translate from one league to the other. Just from looking from the surface, they’re very different indeed.

    • Michael McNamara

      May 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      You are right- it is a completely different ball game, and that is because the NFL has some advantages that the NBA could never have. All financial components aside (huge differences with revenue sharing and TV deals), the major difference is that it is much harder to achieve competitive balance in the NBA.

      In football, you have 53 players, and each player can only affect one side of the football. As good as Peyton Manning is, he doesn’t play defense. Therefore, there are numerous ways to build a winner. In the NBA, one guy makes such a big difference. Lebron made a 25 win team into a 66 win team. Wade almost single handedly won the Heat a title a few years ago.

      That makes those players so valuable, and getting those players are so random/luck of the draw. Quick, name the top 10 players in the NFL. Where we they drafted?

      Manning- #1 overall
      Brees- 2nd round
      Brady- 6th round
      Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson- Mid 20’s
      Troy P.- late first
      Nnamdi Asomugha- late 1st
      Revis- mid first

      I could go on and on. Point is, that in most cases, nearly every team had a shot at these guys. Pro Bowlers are taken in every round.

      Now, onto the NBA:

      Wade- 5th
      LBJ- 1st
      Rose- 1st
      Durant- 2nd
      Kobe- 13th (fluke, abberation)
      Howard- 1st
      CP3- 4th

      and so on. Guys who lead their teams to titles in last 3 decades: Shaq (1st), Duncan (1st), Hakeem (1st), Jordan (3rd), Isiah (2nd) Magic (1st), etc. , etc.

      Just so hard to have real parity and/or competitive balance in this league, and that is why fans aren’t as into the game as they are the NFL and why owners are more reluctant to keep investing in a business that will only return money on your investment if you get lucky with ping pong balls.

      • Ryan Schwan

        May 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm

        Psst. CP3 went 3rd? News to the Jazz.

  6. NolaHog

    May 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    If anything, I think the NBA’s new CBA will be ratified faster than the NFL’s, because I get the feeling that more people (including the players) see that the current system doesn’t let small market teams compete. Players in the small markets want a chance to compete for a championship, which seems much more far fetched in the NBA than it does in the NFL (see Indianapolis, New Orleans, Green Bay, etc.). After reading all of this, I bet the players and owners agree to hard caps for teams, some type of amnesty for current contracts that ultimately clash with the cap, and no reduction in current players’ salaries. As opposed to the NFL, I think the problems are little more obvious (and hopefully easier to fix) in the NBA.

  7. Icebird

    May 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    As a point of clarification, I’d like to point out that there *is* a precedent for an across-the-board salary cut: It happened in the NHL labour dispute a few years ago. The owners wanted a hard salary cap and a salary cut (I think it was in the 20-25% range) and they got it.

  8. MichaelCRL

    May 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hey guys, I just registered for the site as I have really come to enjoy the work that you all do. Being in Mandeville, struggling to even watch Hornets games on TV, I have been irritated for some time that I can’t get any Hornets news/rumors/analysis from anywhere better than national sites. It’s a shame that I saw 10 times the amount of Celtics games this year to Hornets games…Anyway, I loved the article on the new CBA and its potential effect on our team. Thanks again!

    • 42

      May 17, 2011 at 12:43 am


      Don’t be shy. Jump right in.

  9. berlin-hornets

    May 17, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I love all the talk about the CBA and its ramifications for the Hornets. Well, its not like that I love the prospect of a lockout, but this new CBA could be a great opportunity for the Hornets oing forward. I love how you explain possible impacts for the Hornets. It is very similar to speculating about free agents.
    My take on all this is that we will have an amnesty clause. Since there are a lot of teams that have horrible contracts that run way into the future, I believe this amnesty clause will be possible to use in coming years. By the way, why not implement something like an amnesty clause into the new CBA. Something like that every team has some sort of amnesty every three or four years under the condition that the player gets paid his whole salary (problem might be that it favors big spenders and big markets a bit too much).
    I also see cutting salaries coming. But it wont be as much as demanded by the owners and probably will be scaled according to the salary cap.
    Great work guys. You keep our off-season interesting. Thanks

  10. nikkoewan

    May 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    love this site for its activity and intelligent discussions. These CBA talks are delightfully tasty 🙂 THANKS 😀 and welcome to MichaelRL 🙂

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