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What finalized CBA amendment means for the Boston Celtics

NBA free agency will open on Friday, November 20

2019 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Training Camp - Los Angeles Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to an amended collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season. The agreement is expected to be ratified by the Board of Governors (NBA owners) this week.

The key items:

· Season will start on Tuesday, December 22

· Teams will play a 72-game schedule

· Escrow for player salaries will remain 10%, but could be adjusted as high as 20% depending on league revenues

· Salary cap and luxury tax will remain flat from the 2019-20 season. Salary cap will be $109.14 million. Luxury tax will be $132.627 million.

· If a team is subject to a tax payment following the 2020-21 season, that payment will be reduced by the same percentage that Basketball Related Income (BRI) decreases

· Free agent negotiations will open at 6:00 PM ET on Friday, November 20. Signings can be finalized at 12:01 PM ET on Sunday, November 22.

At this time, no decision has been made, or announced, on lifting the current transaction moratorium. In addition, nothing has been announced on option deadlines, guarantee dates, trade exception expiration, qualifying offer deadline or extension deadlines. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it is expected that the transaction moratorium and option deadlines will be two or three days ahead of the NBA Draft, which is Wednesday, November 18:

There are a few things here that apply to the Boston Celtics in a pretty big way. First is the luxury tax. Boston was one of the teams hoping the NBA would keep the tax at the previously projected line of $139 million. That would have put Boston in range of freeing up the full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $9.258 million. With the tax saying flat at $132.67 million, it means the Celtics will likely have the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $5.718 million.

On the backend of the season, the luxury tax being lessened by the same percentage as BRI falls is helpful for Boston. If the Celtics are a tax payer after the season, they should see that bill fall by a decent amount. That could help Danny Ainge convince ownership to take on more money during the offseason and in-season, should the opportunity arise.

Of course, Boston’s tax concerns could be almost entirely wiped away depending on decision made by Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter. Both players have player options for 2020-21. Hayward’s option is for $34,187,085. Kanter’s is for $5,005,350.

Let’s start with Hayward. There has been buzz over the last week that Hayward wants out of Boston. Considering things haven’t gone at all according to plan, it could make sense for Hayward to want a fresh start elsewhere. The challenge is that this is a terrible offseason to be a major free agent. Few teams have meaningful cap space, and all of them are various stages of rebuilding. No matter what you think of Hayward, he’s still likely to command a first-year salary of $20-25 million.

The escrow remaining at 10% to start, is a key item for Hayward to consider with his player option. That’s the planned amount. There is no guarantee he’ll give up more than $3.4 million in escrow off his $34 million salary, which is the regular amount. Had that number climbed to 20 or 25%, it would have made more sense for Hayward to opt out, and sign long-term with certainty of a lowered escrow in future years.

Essentially, if Hayward opts out now, it means he wants a long-term deal with Boston or elsewhere. It’s no longer strictly a financial play for Hayward to opt out.

The other key item for Hayward, and also Kanter, is that option decision could be due before the 2020 NBA Draft. Usually, those come after the draft. That would usually mean, as pending free agents, neither Hayward nor Kanter would be trade eligible at the draft.

If options are due before the draft, that means Boston could pair Hayward or Kanter with draft picks (and, of course, other players) and set up deals at the draft. The Celtics could have done this previously, but then had those plans scuttled if Hayward or Kanter had decided to opt out. That’s why it’s rare for a player with a pending option to be discussed in trades at the draft.

What this means is that Danny Ainge will now have maximum flexibility with considering trades at the draft. It’s unlikely a Hayward trade will happen at the draft if he opts in, because moving $34 million in salary isn’t easy. But moving Kanter and his $5 million salary is eminently doable. One might even say it becomes highly likely.

Everything is starting to clarify for the 2020 offseason and the 2020-21 NBA season. It’s all going to come fast and furious starting early next week. CelticsBlog will have you covered the whole way as the next iteration of the Boston roster comes together.

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