There's progress in the NBA's labor talks. So much so, that a deal is near. At least in terms of settling the mid-level exception, according to NBA.com.
In one small but encouraging sign in the last-minute negotiations between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement, a source who has been briefed on the discussions between the two sides said Monday afternoon that the sides are close to an agreement on one "system" aspect that has proven troublesome -- a new, shorter mid-level exception for free agents.Any progress is good progress right now and this shorter mid-level deal is definitely a concession from players. Although, it's just one sliver of the larger pie. Settling the mid-level is good and the fact the players compromised is good as well. Still to go: Bird Rights, luxury tax, veteran minimums and other things like that. But again, it's something.
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 8 percent raises, a five-year mid-level contract would be worth $37 million.
And plus, a shorter mid-level exception just makes a ton of sense. It's a sign of a changing landscape where owners are seeking for shorter deals. Right now, players can sign deals for five years. Reducing that to three or maybe even two is really a no-brainer. Those contracts typically go to veterans and keeping it in a shorter ballpark could prevent bad mid-level deals down the line. Which makes owners happy.
The mid-level exception has been a pretty key ingredient for a lot of large market contenders that want to add a quality veteran piece while sitting next to the salary cap line. Teams like the Lakers and Heat have taken full advantage of it in the past to add extra role playing pieces to an already expensive roster.
A good compromise on both ends to get that deal done. Now let's just hope that starts a chain reaction and a flurry of compromises and deals are coming soon.