NBA Players To Have Paychecks Cut

Wednesday, July 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — NBA players will begin giving back in the 2001-02 season.

From the highest-paid superstars to the lowest-paid rookie, the players will lose 10 percent of their paychecks. And the money will be going back to the league.

``I think players are going to be really upset when they learn about it,'' said Orlando's Pat Garrity, who was elected Tuesday as the union's secretary-treasurer. ``Ten percent is a pretty big chunk.''

Known as the escrow tax, the 10 percent giveback was agreed to by the players during negotiations to end the 1998-99 lockout.

The tax would be triggered only if players received more than 55 percent of basketball-related income. But projections show the players will receive 64 percent of such income in the upcoming season.

Collectively, the players will be returning more than $150 million to the owners in 2001-02. The tax will stay in effect for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons under current basketball-income projections, meaning the players will fork over close to a half-billion dollars by the time the six-year collective bargaining agreement expires.

``It's not really something people are thinking about,'' Garrity said, ``But the comfort is that the alternative was a hard salary cap, which wouldn't have been good for anyone.''

Players received $1.38 billion in salaries and benefits during the 1999-00 season, and the median salary rose 19 percent to $2 million.

The median salary is up 40 percent in the two years since the lockout, and 76 percent of the players are earning $1 million or more, union officials said.

Seven players, including Garrity, were elected to the union's executive committee Tuesday.

Alonzo Mourning of Miami, Sam Mitchell of Minnesota, Ray Allen of Milwaukee, Jerome Williams of Detroit, Theo Ratliff of Philadelphia and Antonio Davis of Toronto replace Tyrone Corbin of Sacramento, Juwan Howard of Washington, Dikembe Mutombo of Atlanta, Mitch Richmond of Washington, Mark West of Phoenix and retired Herb Williams.

``Great guys to work with,'' said union president Patrick Ewing, who has one year left of his term.

Garrity replaces New Jersey's Jim McIlvaine as secretary-treasurer, and first vice president Michael Curry of Detroit remains in his post.