Terrific news for the WNBA today, as the league and its Players Association announced agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will cover the next six WNBA seasons through 2013.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, player salaries are
guaranteed to increase each year league-wide, and the individual minimum and
maximum player salaries will also continue to grow. In addition, the new
agreement, like the expired CBA, includes a revenue sharing component should
league revenues hit agreed upon benchmarks.
The new agreement also includes adjustments to the free agency system
that will increase player movement — specifically, the number of players that
each team may designate as core players decreases from two to one beginning in
2009. When a team designates a player as a core player, the team receives
exclusive negotiating rights to that player in exchange for an offer of a fully
guaranteed, one-year contract at the maximum salary.
The completion of negotiations on the CBA means that the WNBA off-season will kick off in earnest shortly. The Expansion Draft to stock the new Atlanta Dream franchise will take place next Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Since assuming the duties of Storm head coach and director of player personnel on Jan. 9, Brian Agler has been working with his coaching staff to prepare for what promises to be a busy off-season for the Storm, with just four players under contract. The Storm had to prepare for multiple contingencies as the CBA was being negotiated.
“There’s probably, if you think about it, 5-10 different scenarios that could come back to us,” Agler said when he was introduced to the Seattle media. “We have to be ready for all those, because once we get that we probably won’t have a lot of time.
“The dynamics of that will really affect our approach to some things – especially free agency, restricted and unrestricted, and the number of players we have to protect in regard to the expansion draft.”
It doesn’t sound like free agency will be tremendously different this season from what it was under the old CBA. Going down to one core player designation will change the playing field starting in 2009.
That said, the Storm is one of multiple teams with the flexibility – just four Seattle players are under contract for 2008 – to be aggressive in free agency. That should make things very interesting over the next couple of months. Start up the trade talk and scuttle about free agency now. Thanks to today’s news, we’re ready to really get going on the off-season.