The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) struck a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) last month, and in the process avoided a repeat of 2011, when labor strife led to the owners locking the players out, a shortened season, and ultimately, a game-changing CBA. What changed in this new seven-year pact?

Not all that much, according to Larry Coon, a computer scientist at University of California, Irvine and the founder of Salary Cap FAQ, which acts as one of the go-to sources on NBA salary cap information.

"This year when the owners and the players association had their labor discussions, they came to terms pretty quickly, and the basic financial structure of the league isn't changing much at all," Coon explained. "The system was really fixed in 2011, which was impressive since they did it under so much pressure. This time, it was more of just tweaking around the edges."

Still, that tweaking has consequences, particularly when it comes to the luxury tax. What is the luxury tax? First, one needs to understand that the NBA has a "soft" salary cap, which is different than a hard-set cap that leagues like the NFL and NHL employ.

"Teams can spend above the NBA's soft cap, but they have to deal with restrictions," Coon explained.

The luxury tax is an element of those restrictions. To deter teams from spending astronomical sums above the salary cap in an effort to buy a championship, the luxury tax acts as a tariff on teams whose salary commitments take them too far over the cap. That tax got much more onerous in the 2011 CBA, going from a dollar-to-dollar tax to $1.50 for every dollar over the threshold, with escalating penalties to make the tax sting even more.

One of the changes this year focuses on something called the "apron," a threshold even higher than the luxury tax threshold. Above the apron, teams are further restricted in the signings and trades they are allowed to make, and under certain conditions the apron functions as a true hard cap. Under the current CBA, the apron is $4 million above the luxury tax line, which seems low when one considers it was put in place when the salary cap was in the neighborhood of $50 million (a figure that has nearly doubled).

To give teams a little more wiggle room, the apron is increasing to $6 million over the luxury tax line for next season and will be tied to revenue increases each year after that. That small adjustment could allow teams just enough room to squeeze in that elusive final piece of their championship puzzle.

Coon believes, though, that the biggest change this year lies in discouraging the formation of "super teams."

"One of the things that typically happens with the labor negotiations is they try to fix issues that are on everyone's mind, and this year, one of the big things on everyone's mind was Kevin Durant joining Golden State Warriors to make that super team," Coon said. "They are addressing that by allowing more incentives for star players to re-sign with their current teams. They are adding the 'designated player rule,' which allows players coming off their second contracts in the league to receive an extra year and be paid at a higher rate, but only by their incumbent teams. That will lessen the type of player movement we've seen over the years, like Durant going to Golden State, or going back a few years, LeBron James and Chris Bosh bolting for Miami."

Will it be successful? It's hard to say. More than any other sport, the NBA is affected by the movement of superstars, as it can swing the balance of power from one city to another. Just ask the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers about life with LeBron as opposed to without him. But with the game thriving at unprecedented levels, it's clear that the NBA is content to enjoy the labor peace they've worked so hard to attain, making only small tweaks to find a balance that's close to perfect.