Key NBL players began the process of voting for a series of measures on Thursday that would see a tiered approach to salary cuts for the 2020-21 season, multiple sources told ESPN.
The COVID-19 pandemic created an unstable and untenable financial environment for the league and its teams, leading to both parties coming together with the Australian Basketball Players' Association to negotiate cost-cutting measures.
Each teams' delegates voted on Thursday, sources said, with 15 of the 18 representatives voting in the affirmative, meaning the new measures are expected to go ahead. Contracted players were informed of the agreement after the vote.
The terms of the negotiation will see players hit by salary cuts for the 2020-21 season, sources said, with all parties agreeing to a tiered system of reductions. The minimum salary of $60,000 will remain, and those earning between $60,000 and $79,000 won't be affected by the cuts.
Those earning over $200,000 hit with a 50 percent pay cut, sources said. The rest are as follows:
- $80,000-$99,000: 27.5 percent cut.
- $100,000-119,000: 32.5 percent cut.
- $120,000-139,000: 35 percent cut.
- $140,000-159,000: 37.5 percent cut.
- $160,000-179,000: 42.5 percent cut.
- $180,000-$199,000: 45 percent cut.
All players will have an opportunity, in the two weeks leading up to free agency, to opt out of their current contracts, sources said, with each player's NBL rights to be retained by their respective club. The start to NBL free agency was pushed back to May 1, but there's potential for it to be postponed again.
Injury protection against career-ending injuries will be capped at $150,000 for the 2020-21 season, sources said, while contracts will resume as normal for the start of the 2020-21 season. The NBL salary cap will remain.
Part of the agreement is that each team will be capped at 10 players, including two imports, sources said. The inclusion of a potential Next Star athlete means the most a roster could be at is 11.
If a team makes 90-95 percent of the 2019-20 season's income, 5 percent will be divided amongst its players, sources said; if a team brings in a 95-100 percent return, 10 percent will be divided among its players.
Teams will be able to utilise JobKeeper, sources said, so some players could be eligible for government subsidies.
There will be a three-month review to determine the start date of the 2020-21 season, sources said, with that time also set to be used to discuss logistics of a league that will exist in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBL and ABPA chose not to comment, when approached by ESPN.
The NBL and its teams' owners weren't immune to how COVID-19 has affected the economy, so the terms all parties have agreed on are integral to ensuring the security and longevity of the league.
With the current international travel restrictions in place, several high-profile Australians who would generally play abroad are considering playing in the NBL in the interim, sources said. Conversely, high-level players in the NBL - those who would receive the largest salary cuts - are discussing options that would see them opt out of their current contracts and play in Europe.