Major League Baseball is in the middle of a labor crisis right now. Negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement have stalled leading to a lockout that has already seen the first two series of the 2022 season canceled. There is no end in sight as the two sides continue attempting to iron out a new deal, and it won’t be long before other leagues have to face similar challenges.
The NBA and NBPA signed their last CBA in 2017. It’s due for an update. It officially expires after the 2023-24 season, but both sides have an opt-out they can exercise in December. The two sides are both optimistic about getting a new deal done by then, and fortunately, all signs are currently pointing to its completion. When asked if MLB‘s lockout foreshadowed one for the NBA, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski replied “not even close.” Similarly, Ramona Shelburne added, “They have an interest in not having another lockout.”
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Tensions have been high between MLB and its players for years. This lockout was an inevitability. That simply isn’t the case in the NBA. The players, led largely by former union president Chris Paul and executive director Michele Roberts, have had a constructive working relationship with the owners, led by commissioner Adam Silver. The two sides worked together to change the All-Star format, tweak numerous league policies, and most importantly, finish the 2019-20 season in the Orlando bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul and Roberts have both stepped down from their positions, but their replacements, C.J. McCollum and Tamika L. Tremaglio, have done nothing to suggest that they expect any major labor disputes in the near future.
Still, there are plenty of issues that are going to need to be sorted out when the two sides ultimately sit down to negotiate. There is a new television deal coming, and when it does, basketball-related income is going to explode again. The two sides will not only have to figure out how to split it, but how it will impact the salary cap. The 2016 cap spike is widely considered responsible for a period of limited parity in which Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors and led them to two consecutive championships. Player movement will also surely be a topic of negotiation and Silver has even expressed his disappointment at the frequency with which star players now request trades.
But both the players and owners are earning billions of dollars each year. There is too much money on the line for the league to allow a work stoppage especially after losing so much revenue due to COVID-19. The two sides are going to be proactive in making a deal, and unlike baseball, it seems fairly likely that they’ll come to an agreement.