The new eight-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the WNBA and the players will add 12 more players to the league, beginning this season. Expanding the rosters, even if only by one spot per team, was a key goal for the players.
According to released statements last week:
“We expect all of the league’s constituencies to benefit from the teams’ ability to sign a 12th player,” said WNBA Players Association Director of Operations Pamela Wheeler.
“This agreement caps a successful 2013 season both on and off the court,” added League President Laurel Richie.
The new deal, which continues through 2021 and includes salary-cap increases, “provides the league with a long-term foundation for growth while also guaranteeing increases in player salaries and benefits,” Richie said.
A new provision in the new CBA is the “time off bonus” — each team has up to $50,000 to divide up among players who play three months or less overseas during the off season. This is like a pseudo-internship to keep more players stateside in jobs such as working in their teams’ front offices.
“I think you’ll find some players that are willing to stay at home or go overseas for a few months,” said WNBA Players Union President Tamika Catchings in an Associated Press report. “A few of the younger players did it this year with Elena [Delle Donne] and Skylar [Diggins]. They stayed home and made some appearances.”
Furthermore, perhaps this “bonus” will increase and keep more players home during the off-season and lead to fewer worn-out players at training camp.
Also, the number of times each team can “core” designate its star players, which gives the team exclusive negotiating rights in exchange for a one-year, fully guaranteed maximum salary offer, was lowered from five to four. This gives players a “shorter” path to unrestricted free agency.
The two sides agreed in principle in mid-February, and the final details of the pact were hammered out later — both groups approved it last week. Free agency now can commence, and league officials say the start date for this year’s draft is expected to be announced sometime this week.
Both sides can opt out after six years. The previous CBA expired last September.
“It was my first one, and I feel that I’m really proud of the way we collectively worked through it,” said Richie in the same AP article. “There was lots of back and forth, and that’s the process. There was never any bitterness or anger. It was a healthy discussion and negotiation.”
“Throughout these negotiations,” said Wheeler, “the players demonstrated a strong commitment to the growth and success of the league.”
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Information from the Associated Press and ESPNW was used in this report.
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