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NBA and Players Close To New Deal; Is Wilson Chandler Happy?

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The biggest news of the weekend was undoubtedly the proclamation that there will be a 2011-12 NBA season (albeit reduced from 82 regular season games to 66 regular season games). The announcement was made between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. early Saturday morning. The season will tentatively kick-off with 3 Christmas Day games, including the Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat.

While the big problem regarding the split of Basketball Related Income (BRI) between the players and owners has been rectified, there are still a variety of “B issues” (including drug-testing and whether players will have to be 20-years old and 2 years out of high school to be eligible for the NBA Draft) that remain to be resolved. Once the parties come to an effective agreement on all issues, a majority of the owners and a majority of the players must vote to approve what will become the NBA’s next collective bargaining agreement. The NBPA must also reclaim interest in representing the players as their official bargaining entity. If a majority of either the owners or players are not in favor of the agreement, then the announcement of a 2011-12 season starting on Christmas Day was all for naught, and the players’ lawsuit filed in Minnesota against the NBA and its member teams will resume (the lawsuit has not yet been dismissed).

From what I have read, it seems that the players and owners have agreed to a 50/50 split in BRI with the possibility of that split sliding to 51/49 in either direction, year-to-year, based on meeting certain projections, which will be fleshed out once the agreement is finally (hopefully) signed. Players had been taking 57% of the BRI under the previous deal.

An important note for agents – free-agents will be permitted to sign with NBA teams as early as December 9, 2011 under the new agreement, if executed. December 9 will also be the official opening of training camps, although I am told that many agents working with their clients to put together more organized “un-official” workout program.

Another thing to follow – what will happen to the NBA players who signed in China? The biggest name to sign was Wilson Chandler, who is playing for Zhejiang Guangsha in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Due to the fact that Chandler, and all other NBA players who signed in China this offseason, acquiesced to China’s demand that no opt-out clause exist in his contract, he is effectively prevented from leaving his CBA team and signing with an NBA team.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.