Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA delays free agent signing period

New York, NY (Sports Network) – The NBA’s free agent signing period will not
begin on Friday, as scheduled because the new collective bargaining agreement
has not been finalized.

The league’s labor relations committee announced the moratorium period will be
extended into next week.

The NBA and its players’ union announced during the Finals, a new six-year
collective bargaining agreement.

Several teams have been positioning to make free-agent signings and trades,
but they have been on hold due to the moratorium.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the busiest clubs. The Cavs
reportedly have deals in place for Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and
Donyell Marshall. Seattle has a deal with Ray Allen and the Milwaukee Bucks
have a pact ready for finalizing for Michael Redd.

New Jersey Nets and free agent forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim have apparently
come to terms on a five-year deal worth between $27 and $30 million.

The Los Angeles Lakers have apparently acquired restricted free agent center
Kwame Brown from the Washington Wizards in exchange for forward Caron Butler
and either guard Chucky Atkins or forward Devean George.

The new CBA includes a three percent increase in the salary cap, a reduction
in the luxury tax, a decrease in the escrow withholding over the term of the
deal (10 percent to 8 percent) and a guarantee by the league that the players
will receive at least 57 percent of basketball related income, which will
increase as the revenue goes up.

Under the new agreement, the maximum length of player contracts will now be
reduced from seven to six years for a club’s own players and from six to five
years for players signing with a new team. Also, maximum annual increases in
salaries will be decreased from 12 1/2 percent to 10 1/2 percent for players
re-signing with their current teams, while the number will be reduced from 10
percent to eight percent for free agents trying to sign with new teams.

Meanwhile, the minimum draft entry age will be increased from 18 to 19 years
or the individual must be at least one year removed from high school. Any
player who is not 19 by draft night is ineligible to declare for the NBA.
Teams will also be given the option of assigning players with less than two
years of experience to the NBA Development League (NBDL). In addition, all
foreign-born players must be 18-years-old on draft night to be eligible.

The number of random drug tests as well as the consequences for violations
will be increased and each player will be subjected to four tests each season.
The league will now guarantee that on average all teams will have rosters
consisting of 14 players and any player suspended for more than 12 games for
on-court behavior will have the opportunity to appeal the suspension in front
of a neutral arbitrator.