NBA players authorize return of NBPA

NBA players authorized the return of the players' association Thursday by submitting the required number of signatures to the American Arbitration Association.

The National Basketball Players Association, which filed a disclaimer of interest on November 14th when talks with the owners broke down, needed 260 signatures from players by the end of Thursday to re-form.

"Although the cards are still rolling in, nearly 300 players have submitted cards to the American Arbitration Association, which has been collecting and verifying the cards during the authorization process," the NBPA said in a statement late Thursday.

After the NBPA filed a disclaimer of interest, players and owners continued to negotiate towards a new collective bargaining agreement. They reached a tentative agreement last Saturday, ensuring a 66-game 2011-12 season if negotiations continue as planned.

With the required signatures submitted, the NBPA can now move forward negotiating the collective bargaining agreement. The players are expected to hold a vote on whether to ratify the agreement by the end of the week.

If the current timeline holds, training camps will open and free agency will begin December 9. The regular season will commence December 25.

Teams were allowed to contact agents as of Wednesday, though no deals can be offered before December 9. Players were allowed to report to team facilities Thursday for voluntary workouts and physicals.