We don't have a deal done so there's no deal till they figure out how to divvy up the cash, but at least we know a lot of the new rules that will be in place. Or at least, Howard Beck of the New York Times is reporting that we do. Here are some key items..
Luxury-tax rate: Teams will be charged $1.50 per $1 spent beyond a threshold, replacing the previous dollar-for-dollar tax, according to people who have seen the plan.
To further discourage spending, the tax will increase for every $5 million spent beyond the threshold: to $1.75 after $5 million, $2.25 after $10 million and $3 after $15 million.
If memory serves, this was a "blood issue" for the union. So much for that. Basically this will act as a harder soft cap but teams with oodles of cash (perhaps including Boston because of their new TV deal) would be willing to keep going over the threshold to put a title-competing team on the court.
Contract lengths: Players with "Bird" rights will be eligible for five-year deals, while others will be limited to four. The previous C.B.A. allowed for six-year (Bird) and five-year deals. The 1999 C.B.A. allowed for seven-year (Bird) and six-year deals.
That actually still sounds too long to me, but perhaps with the stiff luxury tax rates, teams will be smart enough to put in out clauses towards the end of most deals. That said, smart agents will look to drop that in any bidding war.
Raises: Annual raises will be reduced by several percentage points, possibly as low as 5 percent for Bird players and 3.5 percent for non-Bird players. The prior deal allowed raises as high as 10.5 percent (Bird) and 8 percent.
Basically a win for the owners.
Midlevel exception: It will start at $5 million, a decrease of $800,000. The contract length and annual raises attached to the exception remain under discussion.
I'm pretty surprised this didn't get lopped off even more, but I think $5M is fairly reasonable for a mid level guy (if by mid level you mean "solid starter, not a star" instead of "Brian Scalabrine."
Amnesty clause: Each team will be permitted to waive one player, with pay - anytime during the life of the C.B.A. - and have his salary be exempt from the cap and the luxury tax. Its use will be limited to players already under contract as of July 1, 2011.
Owners big Get Out Of Jail Free card. They don't deserve it, but I suppose the league will be better off if everyone gets one big mulligan. Doesn't help the Celtics much at all, unless Pierce or Rondo gets hurt badly in the next few years. It would not help us if we signed Jeff Green to a big contract and wanted out of it next summer. This will be perfect for teams like Portland who want to see if Brandon Roy has anything left in the tank before cutting ties.
Stretch exception: Teams will be permitted to stretch out payments to waived players, spreading out the cap hit, over several seasons. The payment schedule will be set by doubling the years left on the contract and adding one. (Thus a team waiving a player with two years left could pay him over five years.)
Sounds similar to what they already have in the NFL. Basically you can spread the pain of a bad contract over several years. In fact, if memory serves, this is what we were able to do with Vin Baker's dead money. This would give owners a little more confidence in signing bigger contracts to guys without eliminating the pain of bad contracts altogether.
So, how can Danny utilize these rules to better build a team now and for the future? I think it is going to be tough. There won't be a flood of amnesty cuts right away because there's no deadline for when you can use those cuts. He'll have the ability to use the Mid Level and he can give up to 5 years to guys like Jeff Green and Big Baby, but will he want to?
Other reports have indicated that sign-and-trades will still be an option and trades will be less difficult to match up money-wise. That might end up being the best immediate impact option for us depending on what we can get in return.
Also, the team can go as far over the tax threshold as Wyc will sign off on, so I guess there's always that.
I think things are going to get very interesting, ...you know, once they stop being really boring.