Evolution of Free Agency in the NBA

  • Inception of the Reserve Clause

    Inception of the Reserve Clause
    The Reserve Clause has its' origins at the conclusion of the 1879 National League Season for baseball. In essence, it tied players to teams unless the team chose to trade, sell, or release the player. It gave teams and owners full control over the player, and gave the player no choice about where to play. Established in baseball, it spread to other sports as they popularized and organized.
  • First Amateur Draft

    The first draft where high school and collegiate athletes are selected by teams to play for them takes place. The NBL and BAA are still separate, but there is one draft to try to evenly distribute players.
  • Foundation of the NBA

    Foundation of the NBA
    After a damaging 3 year battle to win fans and players over, the rival Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL) merge to form the National Basketball Association (NBA).
  • Foundation of the ABA

    Foundation of the ABA
    The ABA was founded in 1967, and led to very little initial success. Within 3 years, the ABA was in talks to merge with the NBA. Oscar Robertson's lawsuit stalled the process, but the settlement led to the merger of the two leagues in 1976.
  • First CBA

    The first Collective Bargaining Agreement on any of the professional sports was signed in baseball in 1968. It is the first time that players represented by agents and unions have bargained with owners.
  • Oscar Robertson v. National Basketball Association

    Oscar Robertson v. National Basketball Association
    Oscar Robertson was unhappy with the fact that the players had no power to decide who they wanted to play for. He then filed suit against the league to end the option clause, which bound a player to their team as long as the team desired to keep them. The suit also initially blocked the NBA-ABA merger on grounds of violating anti-trust laws.
  • Curt Flood's Lawsuit

    Curt Flood's Lawsuit
    At the end of the 1969 season, Curt Flood is traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia. Refusing to move, he sues the ML owners over the reserve clause. The Case is taken to the Supreme Court. Flood loses the case, but it results in sweeping changes in the MLB, which eventually spill over into other sports, such as the NBA.
  • Settlement in Robertson v. NBA

    Settlement in Robertson v. NBA
    A settlement is reached between Oscar Robertson and the league. It allowed players the freedom of movement and higher, more lavish salaries. The freedom of players to move between teams began the battle for the services of the league's top talents. The NBA-ABA merger is approved.
  • NBA Salary Cap

    The NBA salary cap was established in 1984 to level the playing field between teams and create competitive balance for high and low revenue producing teams. Teams were limited to $3.6 million in total payroll.
  • First NBA Unrestricted Free Agent Signed

    First NBA Unrestricted Free Agent Signed
    Tom Chambers signs with the Phoenix Suns.
  • 1995-6 Lockout and CBA

    1995-6 Lockout and CBA
    This important CBA loosened the rules of free agency to more closely represent free agency as we know it today.

    Teams were capped at 57% basketball-related income, and that number decreased to 51.2% in 2011.
  • Designated Player Contract Extension was established

    Designated Player Contract Extension was established
    A designated player coming off his contract may be eligible to earn 30% of the salary cap (rather than the standard 25%). There's a strict criteria needed to be eligible for this. This is also known as the Derrick Rose Rule.
  • NBA Lockout

    This is the 4th lockout in NBA history concluded on 12/8/2011. The rest of the season was reduced to 48 games.
  • NBA Restricted Free Agency

    Teams are now given 3 days to match an offer, and if they don't want to match the offer the player is signed by the offering team. Prior to this change it was a 7 day period.
  • NBA Rookie Contracts

    NBA Rookie Contracts
    Rookies are now given 2 year base contracts with a team option for a 3rd year; prior to this it was a 3 year contract with an option of a 4th year. Rookie Scale Contract slotted based on draft position.
  • Adam Silver Elected Commissioner

    Adam Silver Elected Commissioner
    A progressive, transformative commissioner by the name of Adam Silver was elected in 2014, replacing David Stearn. His work has led to many changes that have benefited the players and their pay.
  • NBA's Current CBA

    The NBA and NBAPA agreed on a new CBA through the 2023-24 season.
  • NBA Salary Cap Sees Increase

    The salary cap increased from $70 million and a $84.74 million luxury tax limit to $94.14 million and a $113.29 million luxury tax limit
  • NBA Basketball Related Income Increases

    The NBA BRI increases to 90%, giving players their fair share of the money created by the league
  • Steph Curry

    Steph Curry
    Signed the first SuperMax contract