At this point with the lockout, any good news is worth celebrating. As the sides teeter on the edge of canceling games, David Aldridge of NBA.com reported earlier today they are close to an agreement on one aspect of the lockout: the mid-level exception.
A source close to the negotiations says they may soon have a deal for what would probably be a shorter version of the former mid-level exception.
Owners have sought a major reduction in the mid-level, one of the key ways that teams over the salary cap are nonetheless able to add players. Implemented in the 1999 CBA after players agreed to accept maximums on player salaries, the mid-level was designed to give non-superstar players a chance at a good payday during their careers, and it has done just that. Tied to the average salary in the NBA, last year’s mid-level started at $5.8 million. With annual eight percent raises, a five-year mid-level contract would be worth $37 million.
And while some mid-level signings — like Detroit’s signing of Chauncey Billups in 2002 — worked out, many other players who’ve been signed to mid-level deals over the years have not performed as hoped by their teams. And because contracts are guaranteed, teams were locked into those deals for several more years than they’d like. Owners have looked to shorten the mid-level to as few as three years and to limit the overall amount that the mid-level could be used for.
Fair enough. Every summer, nothing is more predictable than a few terrible mid-level signings. $5 million or so doesn’t seem like much to annually hand out, but when you give it to a scrub, and then have him on your books for three or four years (or more), that’s when it starts to become overbearing.
This doesn’t mean the lockout is lifting. There are still “systems” that have yet to be agreed upon, such as the luxury tax, length of contracts and annual raises, revenue sharing and the dreaded BRI. But hopefully this is a start.
What do you think?
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