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Report: NBA to withhold 25 percent of player salaries beginning in May

When will NBA return

KOLKATA, INDIA - 2020/03/25: In this photo illustration a National Basketball Association (NBA) logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a computer model of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the background. (Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

NBA owners reportedly wanted to withhold 50 percent of player salaries beginning mid-April. The National Basketball Players Association reportedly countered with 25 percent beginning in mid-May.

Apparently, the union won that negotiation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The coronavirus pandemic is costing the NBA significant money. So far, owners are bearing the brunt of the lost revenue. But players – per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which calls for both sides to split Basketball Related Income – were always going to share in the losses.

The big question: When?

By forgoing money this season, players will earn more than they would otherwise in future seasons. That’s why the plan is to not have next season’s salary cap drop significantly.

Players collectively will get steadier incomes. There won’t be large disparities in salaries determined largely by which year players happen to be free agents (as opposed to when the union rejected cap smoothing with new national TV deals).

But not every current member of the NBPA will be in the NBA beyond this season. Players don’t always know whether they’ll fall out of the league. But undoubtedly, some players are sacrificing salary this season that players not yet in the league will recoup.

Will some players vote no on this proposal? I suspect not many. The union is generally strong and cohesive. Plus, it’s difficult to accept you might be the player who falls out of the NBA and gets shortchanged.

Players might get some of this money returned. It depends when and how play resumes. But if the season gets canceled and owners invoke force majeure – which would entitle owners to keep 22-27 percent of player salaries – this fund would presumably be the start of that collection.