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One of the alternatives to a hard salary cap being discussed is the so-called Carmelo Rule, which would prevent teams from signing players acquired in the last year of their contracts to an extension.

While the NBA lockout drags on and players and owners arrive in New York for a weekend of crucial meetings, the two sides are trying to reach compromise on the biggest hurdle presenting a new collective bargaining agreement from being reached: the salary cap.

Enter the Carmelo Rule, one of the items causing the biggest buzz emanating from the meetings and as reported by ESPN.com.

The rule gets its namesake, of course, from New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Last season, the Denver Nuggets traded Anthony to the Knicks, who promptly signed him to a contract extension. Anthony was in the last year of his contract with the Nuggets.

The Carmelo Rule would prevent these types of trades. Proposed by owners as one of the alternatives to a hard salary cap players say they will not accept, the rule would prevent teams from extending or signing a player to a new contract unless he is acquired before July 1 of the player's final season of his previous contract.

According to ESPN, there are a number of options being discussed at the meetings this weekend. The apparent willingness to compromise went along with what ESPN reported as a modest level of optimism that the framework of a new CBA could be put in place by the middle of next week.

That framework would likely not include a hard salary cap and would preserve guaranteed contracts, two issues the players' union has been steadfast about keeping in the new deal. In exchange and in addition to the Carmelo Rule, here are some options being proposed by owners:

  • A Supertax, charging teams $2 in luxury tax for every dollar more than $70 million in payroll, $3 for every dollar more than $75 million, and $4 for every dollar more than $80 million.
  • Each team being able to release one player and have that player's cap number off payroll.
  • Guaranteed contracts would be reduced to a minimum of three or four seasons.
  • Lowering the value of the mid-level exception -- $5.8 million last season - to $3 million

NBA commissioner David Stern has said that this weekend of talks could lead to enormous consequences if no progress is made. The start of the regular season - Nov. 1 - could be on the line with these talks this weekend.