MIAMI – The NBA and its players have agreed in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement, one that still needs to be ratified by players and owners in the coming weeks.
The league announced the tentative agreement Wednesday night, one day before the sides faced a deadline for opting out of the current deal. It ensures the two sides will avoid the kind of ugly labor dispute that led to a lockout and missed games in 2011.
That deadline for opting out has now been extended to Jan. 13, with the NBA saying that's "in order to give both sides enough time to review the terms of the agreement and vote to ratify."
With both sides signing off, getting players and owners to pass the deal would likely be no more than a formality.
Three people briefed on the terms said the deal extends for seven seasons, with an opt-out possible after six. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side was releasing exact details.
If the deal is ratified, the start of the season would be moved up a week, preseason games would be capped at six and there's a hope that one of the most dreaded elements of the schedule -- the four-game-in-five-day stretches -- would be eliminated.
Other details of the new proposed CBA include increases in values of rookie-scale contracts, minimum salaries and exceptions, with a 45 percent increase in minimum salaries across the board in the first year of the new agreement. The rookie deals will be proportionate to the salary cap, either rising or falling as that does. The average player salary is expected to hit $8.5 million next season and rise to $10 million by 2020-21 under the new terms.
Two-way contracts between the NBA and the D-League will be in play for the first time, which would figure to enhance player development. And contracts would be able to be extended for five, or in some cases, six years.
Neither NBA Commissioner Adam Silver nor NBPA executive director Michele Roberts spoke publicly after the tentative deal was announced. Some players reacted quickly on social media, including Golden State's Draymond Green -- who said "one day we will get it right.... maybe."
Phoenix's Jared Dudley said he wasn't sure what Green meant. "I really don't know anything about the deal," Dudley tweeted .
News broke of the tentative agreement just as Wednesday's games were starting. In San Antonio, before the Spurs played Boston, Celtics coach Brad Stevens reacted cautiously.
"I don't have any reaction until I know things are completed," Stevens said. "Once that is a thing and we're made of it aware of it, I'll talk about it. I think the NBA is in a great place. I think we're all hopeful that something like that would happen."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was briefed on the agreement after a victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night and said he felt a sense of relief.
"We're all very fortunate to be in this profession," Spoelstra said.
Talks have gone on for weeks, and unlike those surrounding the most recent deal between the league and its players, these were mostly amicable. Most of the major issues -- such as keeping the split of basketball-related income the same as it is in the existing deal -- were agreed upon weeks ago.
Included in the more than 400-page document is a new program that addresses domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Players and their families will be provided with education, training and counseling and players facing allegations will be subject to a new investigation, discipline and appeals process.
Another key element was the league agreeing to help fund programs that aid retired players with education and medical expenses.
Still, some issues needed to get ironed-out, including ones related to licensing and marketing. The sides considered extending the opt-out deadline even before coming to the tentative agreement, and now only the voting remains before labor peace is ensured for up to seven more years.
NBA officials and players expressed optimism throughout the process, pointing to the league's skyrocketing revenue and salaries -- thanks to a massive new television deal -- and rising TV ratings.
From the outset, these talks seemed much different than the unfriendly discourse that went on five years ago, when the league and its players were so far apart that the 2011-12 season wound up getting shortened from 82 games per team to 66. The players were locked out for 161 games, resulting in a shortened season and plenty of frustration.
"I think they will get to a decision that's good for everybody," Miami guard Goran Dragic said in recent weeks.
Another issue previously known to be addressed in this proposed CBA was a deal where the league would help fund programs to help retired players with education and medical expenses.