How the new NBA collective bargaining agreement affects the Hornets

A series of Tweets from NBA insiders have provided us more details on new cap rules in the new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Players Association. Let’s start with the Tweets.

We hit the highlights on the original reports on the new CBA a couple of weeks ago.

On the whole, a lot of the new rules and regulations seem to aim to accomplish one of two things: level the playing fields for teams and ensure that more players are making more money.

Leveling the playing field for teams

There are a lot of new penalties for teams that completely disregard the luxury tax in order to build championship teams. That still includes plenty of financial penalties, but those financial penalties haven’t done much to dissuade teams like the Warriors and Clippers from spending gobs of money without remorse. There are new rules that would make it harder for those teams to add pieces to the roster by restricting their ability to trade far-away first round picks, preventing them from signing players in the buyout market, and taking away their taxpayer exception to sign players.

None of these restrictions are likely to ever affect a team like the Hornets who only flirts with the luxury tax sometimes and never goes into it. But it will benefit them indirectly should they ever compete for anything meaningful. The increased punitiveness of the luxury tax reduces the number of teams that can acquire the service of veterans looking to latch onto playoff teams in the buyout market or as part of trades that involve 2029 first round picks and the like. Teams like the Hornets that are more likely to be in that second tier of relevance at their best become the best option available in a lot of circumstances.

In short, the new CBA makes it harder for teams with bottomless pockets to ignore cap restrictions, which theoretically spread talent a little wider at the top of the league.

Players can make more money

There are a lot of new rules around the margins that will help second round picks, two-way players, and other fringe NBA guys get paid. That probably won’t have much of an effect on any one team in particular, but kudos to the players for making sure everyone gets their money. The rule about teams below the minimum salary not receiving a tax payout is interesting too. That might lead to some random journeyman getting a one-year, $15 million contract just to reach the salary floor.

There are a couple of things that should help the Hornets here though. One, teams can now sign veterans to extensions starting at 140% of their current contract, up from 120%. The Hornets don’t have anyone that affects right now, but the rule should make it easier for teams to retain top stars without risking them hitting free agency.

The other is the addition of a third two-way contract. The Hornets got a lot of production from their two-way guys this year in Theo Maledon and Bryce McGowens. The Hornets have 5 picks in the top 42 of the upcoming draft, and the extra two-way slot gives the Hornets one more chance at a swing they otherwise might not have taken with one of those picks.

The Midseason Tournament

It’s a thing the Hornets could win! It’ll overlap with the regular season with certain games designated as tournament games. Think of it like how preseason tournaments count towards regular season records in college basketball. Since the tournament itself is single elimination, there’s a chance non-elite teams get hot and/or take it more seriously and steal the championship from some of the contenders. I don’t know what that would feel like, but it would probably be fun?

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