Over the weekend, NBA owners and the league’s player’s association agreed to a new CBA that will impact several things moving forward. There are some big changes like the new in-season tournament and the ability for players to invest in the league.
However, there are a number of more subtle changes that will have various impacts, too. Changes to contracts to draft picks, two-way deals, and luxury tax all are going to impact teams, the Lakers included, in the coming years.
Here’s a look at some of the notable changes as it pertains to the Lakers.
Well, NBA fans aren’t going to have to complain about Jeanie Buss not spending big anymore. The new CBA greatly punishes teams for spending money, which is dumb. As reported by Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, the league will punish teams for overspending, including taking away exceptions.
The biggest change to the salary cap and the league’s system of spending will be the creation of a new second luxury tax apron line. The current CBA calls for the apron to come in at roughly $6 million above the luxury tax threshold and going above that line already holds some penalties, like the loss of bi-annual exception. It is meant to curtail team spending.
The new CBA has been set up to go even further and become even more punitive against teams who spend at a certain limit above the tax. One such penalty will be the loss of a team’s ability to use its taxpayer mid-level exception; this year that contract was worth up to $6.479 million.
Buss has taken a lot of due criticism for penny-pinching, which has cost the Lakers players in free agency in the past. Instead of punishing owners for cost-cutting, the new CBA encourages it. It’s not surprising the owners would create rules so they don’t have to spend as much, but it’s frustrating.
The Lakers have operated around the luxury tax in recent years and would have to be perhaps more cognisant of that moving forward.
ESPN also reported those second-apron teams -- $17.5M above the tax level – will not have use of the taxpayer mid-level exception. There’s been an average of three teams in that range in recent years.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 1, 2023
This season, for example, the Lakers are currently $17.1 million over the tax level, the closest of any team without going over that $17.5 million line.
While this will curtail spending, the league implemented other avenues to help with that.
Second-Round Pick Exception
Perhaps more than most other teams around the league, the Lakers will benefit from the creation of a Second-Round Pick Exception to sign rookies. While it’s unclear how it will entirely work — as much of the new CBA is — it will serve as a mechanism to sign picks to deals with more long-term security in place of using the mid-level exception.
The NBA/NBPA's new CBA will create a new Second-Round Pick Exception that can be used so teams will no longer need to dip into the mid-level exception to sign second-rounders, sources tell me and @MikeVorkunov.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 2, 2023
The Lakers have found plenty of hidden gems in the second round and turned them into role players throughout the years. The problem is they rarely used the mid-level exception to sign those players, meaning players like Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker and now Austin Reaves were eligible for restricted free agency after two years and received huge paydays.
This could be a resource for them to use to find those types of players, keep them under team-friendly deals for a year longer and still have the full mid-level exception to use.
And on the note of finding hidden gems...
Three two-way contracts
The Lakers are also set to benefit from another two-way roster spot being added in the new CBA. The likes of Alex Caruso and Reaves were on two-way deals that later became regular NBA contracts. And now, there will be a third two-way spot added to the fold.
Typically, the Lakers are one of the more active teams in not just signing two-way players, but converting them into NBA contracts in an effort to give those players a shot in the league. Giving the Lakers scouting department and player development staff another avenue to find more hidden gems can only be a positive.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.