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NBA, players union extend negotiations by pushing back CBA opt-out date

Michael Holley and Mike Smith look back on 18-year-old LeBron James' NBA debut on Oct. 29, 2003 and how he managed to exceed already outsized expectations.

Malcolm Brogdon said this was coming, and it has.

For the fourth time, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association have agreed to push back the date either side can opt-out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement to Nov. 6, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by the league. What that means in practice is the sides will continue negotiations for the next week over the salary cap, the start date of next season, how long the 2020-21 season will run, and the rest of the details.

In theory, that means either side can opt-out of the NBA CBA until Nov. 6 — which would throw next season into chaos and almost certainly mean a lockout — but in practice, that is not expected. In reality, this is just an extension of negotiations that have been going on since back during the NBA bubble.

There has been plenty of public negotiating by both sides in recent days. The owners submitted a plan that started on Dec. 22 because that generated an extra $500 million in revenue. The players said “show us your math” on all that money, and then Michelle Roberts, the union executive director, said most players wanted to hold off the start of the season until Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. Then the owners hinted at a 50 game season — and reduced salaries — if the league starts in January.

All of this is to gain leverage at the bargaining table. There are multiple issues at hand, but for the players, it primarily is about a higher luxury tax line and reducing the percentage of money taken out of their checks to go into escrow. (The escrow holds money back from players in case NBA revenue does not meet projections, throwing off the CBA-mandated 50/50 split of basketball related income. In a standard year, 10% of each player check taken for escrow — players usually get most or all of it back — but rumors about next season’s percentage have ranged from 15% to 40%, depending on league revenue, and it’s not likely the players would see that money again.)

With the NBA Draft set for Nov. 18 and the season potentially starting just more than a month after that, expect the sides to strike a deal on or before Nov. 6.