NBPA votes to set aside money for retired players' healthcare

Chris Paul and the NBPA executive committee are in favor of funding retired players. (USATSI)
Chris Paul and the NBPA executive committee are in favor of funding retired players' medical costs. (USATSI)

The National Basketball Players Association's executive committee has voted to set aside a portion of this past season's salary shortfall while a plan to fund health costs for retired players is studied, a person familiar with the plan told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.

At its summer meeting in Las Vegas on Monday, union leaders agreed that they liked the concept of funding retired players' medical costs, but no vote was taken on whether to go forward with the plan. The executive committee, led by president Chris Paul of the Clippers, voted to set aside an undisclosed sum of the shortfall check the union is due to receive from the NBA to fund the initiative if it is acted upon.

The issue will be discussed further at the union's All-Star meeting in Toronto.

Since the players' negotiated salaries for the 2014-15 season came in below their 50-51 percent negotiated guarantee, the union will receive the entire escrow fund of approximately $200 million plus the amount of the shortfall -- estimated to be $57 million, according to a league source. The committee did not vote on how to divide the shortfall money -- evenly among all the players or prorated based on their salaries, sources said.

It is expected that the players also will receive shortfall checks after the next two seasons as league revenues continue to rise higher than expected. With the infusion of the NBA's $24 billion TV deal beginning in 2016, commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the amount of the shortfall due the players in 2017 could approach $500 million.

Despite the NBA's booming popularity and stronger-than-expected financial performance, Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts exchanged bargaining rhetoric last week in the wake of Silver's comments about the shortfall and the health of the NBA business. After the league's Board of Governors meeting, Silver said, "A significant number of teams are continuing to lose money."

Roberts fired back, saying, "Our business is thriving and will continue to do so for the near future." 

Either side can opt out of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement in 2017 and must give written notice by Dec. 15, 2016. In May, Silver issued a veiled threat to the NBPA, saying that if the union opts out of the agreement, "There will be things that we're going to bring back to the table, too."

Players also discussed but did not vote on the issue of conflicts of interest for agents who represent both players, coaches and/or management -- a clear violation of the union's agent regulations that has long gone unenforced. Proposed modifications to the outdated agent regulations, as well as possible enforcement methods, were presented. But the issue was tabled until the February All-Star meeting, sources said.

The union also informed players it has accepted a $5.3 million settlement in its lawsuit against the state of Tennessee over the so-called "jock tax" that was imposed in 2009. Any player who paid the tax for any work days spent in Tennessee will receive a refund covering a portion of the money, as well as 100 percent of any taxes paid going forward until the tax is repealed on June 1, 2016.

CBS Sports Insider

Ken Berger began covering the NBA when Kobe Bryant was a rookie. Somehow, he'll outlast him. Ken has multiple top-10 finishes in the APSE writing contest and one championship to his credit - the 2015 Metropolitan... Full Bio

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