Folks around the league have spent the weekend reviewing the new labor deal and its 450-plus pages of complicated math and lawyerly language.
As we brace for the lifting of the moratorium on signings and trades Tuesday, what follows here is the first bundle of fine-print CBA details to blip onto the Stein Line radar.
There will be more nuggets to share once the complete labor document starts to circulate, but here are 10 to pique the interest of amateur capologists everywhere:
1. Call this one the Gary Payton Rule: Players who are traded and then waived by their new team cannot sign back with the team that traded them for 30 days (20 days in the offseason). Payton, you'll recall, was dealt from Boston to Atlanta in the Antoine Walker trade-deadline swap in February, only to rejoin the Celtics three days later. Had this rule been in place last season, Payton still would have been eligible for the playoffs after Atlanta released him March 1, but he would have been forced to wait until March 31 to re-sign with Boston.
2. A loophole that attracted even more attention last season -- after Alonzo Mourning and Jim Jackson refused to report to Toronto and New Orleans upon being traded -- will be personally addressed by the commissioner from now on. The new rules empower David Stern to fine or suspend such players, and word is he plans to swing the hammer hard in hopes of dissuading future Zos from holding out after trades. Mourning was able to sign with Miami after the Raptors, who had acquired the veteran center from New Jersey in the Vince Carter trade, bought him out for an estimated $11 million. Had Stern possessed this option last season, Zo likely would have been forced to miss a handful of games through suspension upon joining the Heat.
3. Maximum salaries for next season are $12 million for players with zero-to-six years of service time (such as Michael Redd and Joe Johnson), $14.4 million for players with seven-to-nine years of service time (Ray Allen) and $16.8 million for players with 10 or more years of service time. So Redd's six-year deal to stay put in Milwaukee, based on 10.5 percent annual raises, is officially worth $90.9 million. Johnson's forthcoming contract in a Phoenix Suns' sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks, based on 8 percent raises because the Hawks set the terms, is worth $69.6 million. And Allen's five-year deal to stay in Seattle, based on 10.5 percent raises, is worth $87.1 million.
4. Despite suggestions to the contrary, the league office will continue to institute a moratorium on signings and trades at the start of every July throughout the next six seasons of labor peace. By year five, though, the moratorium is expected to last no longer than a week.
5. Players with two years or less of big-league service can be sent down to the NBA Development League a maximum of three times per season.
6. Rookie contracts indeed provide only a two-year guarantee for first-round picks, with teams able to invoke two subsequent one-year options if they choose. Rookies, though, do not become unrestricted free agents after four seasons as some expected. If a rookie plays out the original two-year deal and the two option seasons, he would still be a restricted free agent after the fourth year.
7. Offer sheets to restricted free agents like Chicago's Eddy Curry, which formerly had to be at least three seasons long, can now be as short as two years.
8. The so-called Million Dollar Exception is now known as the Bi-Annual Exception, because teams above the cap can use it only every other season. It's now worth $1.672 million for the 2005-06 season and will go up slightly every year. Capped-out teams can still use the mid-level exception (worth an even $5 million in '05-06) every season.
9. NBA teams can now pay $500,000 when buying out a player from his overseas contract, up from $350,000.
10. Along with an increase to four random drug tests per season for all veterans, ramped-up punishments for steroid violations call for a 10-game suspension for the first offense, 25 games for strike two, one full season for strike three and then a lifetime ban for the fourth offense.