Two things everyone seems to be getting wrong [now with big update]

(1% chance it's me though)

First thing:

This whole idea that the contract can be tweaked to conform to the CBA, avoiding the arbritration process. No. It can't.

11.6 a (iv) If the Arbitrator sustains the League's rejection of any such SPC pursuant to subsection (ii) above, then the Arbitrator shall reform the SPC such that it conforms to the requirements of this Agreement, in a manner such that the term of the SPC shall not be modified and the aggregate compensation to be paid to the Player pursuant to the SPC shall, to the extent possible, be preserved.

But. This is not "pursuant to subsection (ii)." It's pursuant to subsection (i), which covers salary cap circumventions.

11.6 a (iii) If the Arbitrator sustains the League's rejection of any such SPC or Offer Sheet, as the case may be, pursuant to subsection (i) above, then the Arbitrator shall order that the rejected SPC or Offer Sheet, as the case may be, will, immediately upon the League's receipt of the Arbitrator's decision, be deemed null and void.

The subsection (ii) remedy is only for minor issues, ones that don't relate to Article 50 and circumventing the upper limit provision of the CBA.

Which brings me to my second point. People keep saying, "it's a slap on the wrist." Well, no:

26.13 (c) In the event that the System Arbitrator finds that a Circumvention has been committed by a Club or a Club Actor, the Commissioner may impose any or all of the following penalties and/or remedies set forth below: (i) Impose a fine of up to $5 million in the case of a Circumvention by a Club or Club Actor, but in no circumstances shall such fine be less than $1 million against any Club or Club Actor if such party is found to have violated Article 50 of this Agreement. If such a fine is assessed against a Club (except in the case of a financial reporting violation), that Club's Payroll Room shall also be reduced by such amount for the following League Year.

[UPDATE THAT'S KINDA IMPORTANT: many people have pointed out that Article 26 describes a separate process than Article 11, and that, essentially, the process we're in at present -- which will lead to an arbiter's ruling on the contract, or else the voiding of the contract before we get to arbitration -- simply rules whether the contract stands or not, while Article 26 gives us the process for (apparently "further") investigating the possible circumvention and ultimately leading to a (second) arbiter who is the one mentioned above (26.13c) who finds yes/no re the circumvention. That the CBA is confusing and muddled should surprise no one. I have two three problems with this interpretation (not to say it's wrong, I just can't reconcile it with this): (1) the league has already decided it's a circumvention, so they don't have to further investigate if they think what they already said they think; (2) the "sit down and discuss" to see if something can be worked out between the parties aspect of Article 26 doesn't make sense to me in this context; what is there to work out? The contract is void and gone (in this hypothetical); the league has already decided it's a circumvention; the commissioner can't negotiate lesser penalties until after the second arbiter has ruled; and (3) the second arbiter is ruling on whether or not there has been a circumvention, when the first arbiter already ruled that the contract is void due to a circumvention, and that first arbiter's decision is binding. If the second arbiter rules that there is no circumvention, it's not like the voided rejected contract can magically be un-void, de-rejected, re-registered and approved. So again, how is that not a conflict with 11.6?

You may continue...]

If you want to pore over Article 50, as I did in a previous post, you can find several possible circumventions, but you needn't look any further than:

50.5 Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting. (a) Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range. The Team Payroll Range created by this Agreement consists of a Lower Limit and an Upper Limit during each League Year for permissible spending by each Club based on its Averaged Club Salary. The Team Payroll Range provisions do not permit Clubs to have Averaged Club Salary that is below the Lower Limit. Nor does the Team Payroll Range permit Clubs to have Averaged Club Salary that is above the Upper Limit, except for two (2) limited exceptions provided in this Agreement, with respect to bona fide, long-term Player injuries or illnesses, as set forth in Section 50.10(d), and with respect to the "Performance Bonus Cushion," as set forth in Section 50.5(h).

But that's what Article 50 is. It's the details of the upper limit and the lower limit; that is to say, the salary cap.

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