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This is the 3rd part of 3 Shades of Blue’s review of the issues surrounding the negotiations on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In part one we discussedthe tiered luxury tax proposal. In part 2 we looked at the Amnesty proposal. In part 3 we discuss the issue of the maximum length of guaranteed contracts.

Today is October 3. That was originally the date training camp was to begin in the NBA. This is also the day Commissioner David Stern wanted to have an agreement in place by to prevent a potential lost season. When the hyperbole coming out of the league ramps up to this level every issue, no matter how seemingly trivial, seems to take on new found importance.

The weekend’s negotiations weren’t a total disaster but they were far from a success as well. The players are set against giving up both their current allocation of basketball related income and against any proposal that dampers teams ability to go over the cap in their desire to build a successful team. The owners are just as determined to take back a majority of the income and severely dampen if not eliminate teams spending amounts that exceed the cap. These issues are far from being resolved and until they are other issues such as the maximum length of contracts will likely be deferred.

Maximim Length of Contracts

The Proposal – Shorten the maximim length of contracts from the current five years to three or four.

What it Means: The length of a contract determines the amount of time a player is guaranteed an income. In a league where the average career is less than three seasons having a measure of job securitythat exceeds that number means a greater amount of security for those players qualifying for a second contract. Shortening the length of maximum contracts for players means greater mobility for players but at the cost of job security. For the owners shortening the maximum length of contracts give them greater freedom to rework their rosters quickly but at the cost of less long-term success of teams.

For a team like the Grizzlies it would have been very difficult to imagine the roster remaining together during the lean years long enough to develop the core the Grizzlies have at present. Then again it is likely that if the team had remained together it would have done so for far less than the owners paid Rudy Gay and Mike Conley after their rookie contracts.

The Reasonable Solution: Who cares? Both sides win and lose in this discussion. Players gain mobility at the expense of security. Owners give up long term financial planning for shorter bad deals. The side who wins the more important sides of the negotiations will likely surrender this issue to give the opposing side a win in the negotiations.



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