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WNBA's 8-year labor deal to hike average salary to $130,000

WNBA's 8-year labor deal to hike average salary to $130,000

NEW YORK -- The WNBA and its union announced a tentative eight-year labor deal Tuesday that will allow top players to earn more than $500,000 while the average annual compensation will surpass six figures for the first time.

The contract, which begins this season and runs through 2027, will pay players an average of $130,000 and guarantees full salaries while on maternity leave. The agreement also provides enhanced family benefits, travel standards and other health and wellness improvements.

"I call it historic," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a phone interview. "The CBA guarantees substantial (financial) increases. The way we are paying these players is different than the past. ... The top couple players are tripling (in pay) where they were. Other players are making $200,000-300,000. The average will be over $130,000. Everyone gets an increase here."

The deal, which must be ratified by owners and players, calls for 50-50 revenue sharing starting in 2021, based on the league achieving revenue growth targets from broadcast agreements, marketing partnerships and licensing deals.

"I was adamant on the 50-50 target," Engelbert said. "The league and players work together to market this league so we can share revenue with the players. We have to hit some targets."

The salary cap will go up 31% to $1.3 million in the first year -- up from $996,000 and another $750,000 in prize money for special competitions arrives in 2021. Under this deal, the maximum base salary would increase to $215,000 from $117,500.

"You can pay your stars. That's how the league grows," Engelbert said.

This will be the fifth CBA for the WNBA, which launched in 1997. Like the last one, there is a mutual opt-out provision after six years.

The CBA also proposes a minimum of $1.6 million in offseason league and team marketing agreements that would create up to $300,000 in additional annual cash for select players.

The rookie scale for the Nos. 1-4 picks will rise to $68,000 -- an increase of about $15,000 from this year -- plus the ability to qualify for league-guaranteed money under the marketing agreement.

"It was collaborative effort,'" WNBA players' union president Nneka Ogwumike said. "I think that we really all had the same things in mind and had different way of getting there. We really put our heads together and came with some ideas."

Ogwumike said the labor pact provides more financial incentive for players to stay in the offseason instead of playing overseas. Former league MVP Breanna Stewart tore an Achilles tendon overseas last year and missed the entire WNBA season. Diana Taurasi sat out a season a few years ago because her Russian team was paying her more than $1 million and wanted her to rest.

"This agreement is reflective of the game growing and the league growing and then the revenue share will grow," Ogwumike said. "Revenue sharing is putting your best foot forward."

Engelbert said the additional money needed to fund the CBA will come from a variety of sources.

"Teams and owners are stepping up. The league is stepping up," said the commissioner, who started last July.

She also touted the new "Changemakers" program, with key sponsors supporting the WNBA in its transformation across marketing, branding and player and fan experiences. AT&T, Nike and Deloitte are the inaugural three business partners.

"We're hoping to lift, not just women in sports and women in basketball, but women in society.," Engelbert said.

The league will also expand its schedule by a few games and add an in-season Commissioner's Cup tournament this year. Other highlights of the CBA include:

  • Travel improvements where players are given premium economy airline tickets as well as individual rooms on road trips. In the past, players flew coach and some shared rooms.
  • A more liberal free agency system that allows players to become unrestricted free agents sooner beginning next year if they aren't given the "core" designation by their team. It also drops the number of times a player can be so designated from four to three beginning this year and down to two beginning in 2022.
  • Players receive their full salary while on maternity leave, are given two-bedroom apartments for players with children as well as workplace accommodations that provide privacy for nursing mothers.
  • The league is also introducing family planning benefits of up to a $60,000 reimbursement for veteran players for costs directly related to adoption, surrogacy and fertility treatment.
  • Enhanced mental health benefits and resources.

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Mic'd up: Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in Chicago hotel

Mic'd up: Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in Chicago hotel

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you put Tyler Perry in a room with a bunch of NBA players? If so, we have the answer. 

During the Wizards' road trip to Chicago in January, the famous actor/producer/writer surprised several players in their hotel room and compared heights with them the whole time. 

Perry, who's used to being the tallest in the room at 6'5", was dwarfed by the likes of Thomas Bryant and Johnathan Williams. 

"I ain't ever been in a room where I'm the short guy," Perry said as he greeted all the players. 

There were a couple of players who Perry had the height advantage on. Bradley Beal admitted he was shorter than Perry during the video, while Perry didn't have a doubt he was taller than Gary Payton II. 

"Oh, you're short," Perry joked after Payton revealed his height. 

You can find more of this kind of inside access into the Wizards' trip to Chicago, where the "Wire-to-Wire" special will air on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Ish Smith, Moe Wagner and Scott Brooks will be mic'd up and featured throughout a condensed version of the Wizards' loss to the Bulls in mid-January. 

"The thing is, you look at celebrities as celebrities, but they look at our players as celebrities," Brooks said. "But you could tell that [Perry], he had their attention. Not a lot of times our guys are willing to wait after our breakfast meeting. But they waited around for him so it was really cool to see that."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

The Wizards head to the Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors. Before that, fans can enjoy inside NBA access in the debut of 'NBC Sports Wire to Wire'.

'NBC Sports Wire to Wire' will debut Sunday, Mar. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and feature a one-hour condensed game of the Wizards matchup with the Bulls from mid-January. The twist is players and coaches on both sides were mic'd up during the game. 

Ish Smith, Moe Wagner, and Scott Brooks are featured from the Wizards side, while you'll be able to hear Coby White, coach Jim Boylen and former Wizard Tomas Satoransky as well. The broadcast will deliver a mix of on-court audio and sit-down interviews. 

The Wizards fell to the Bulls 115-106 in the game in question. In a head-to-head matchup between two eventual All-Star snubs, Zach LaVine got the best of Bradley Beal, scoring 30 points on 12-21 shooting to get his team the win. 

If you recall, Beal questioned the Wizards' culture after his team dropped what he called a 'winnable game.' Since then, the Wizards are 7-6 and before the All-Star break, were playing some of their best basketball.

Beal has also been exceptional since Washington's last loss in Chicago, so perhaps there's a bit more insight into what went on that game that one, caused Beal to call out his team after the game, and two, sparked one of the best runs of play for the Wizards all year. 

So remember 6:30 p.m. on Sunday before the Wizards-Warriors game. And if you aren't able to catch it the first time, the special will be re-air later Sunday evening at 11:30 p.m.

Here's everything you need to know to tune into the game Sunday and how to watch the Wire to Wire broadcast afterward. 

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors 

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

When: Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020, at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Warriors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Warriors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards vs Bulls

7:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders

8:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

8:30 PM: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors

11:00 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

11:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards @ Bulls

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS INJURY REPORT

Wizards: John Wall (OUT/Achilles), Thomas Bryant (OUT/foot)

Warriors: Marquese Chriss (Day-to-day/calf), Draymond Green (Day-to-day/hip), Steph Curry (Day-to-day/hand), Klay Thompson (OUT/knee)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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