NBA owners approve new labour deal

North American basketball league the NBA is closing in on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after team owners voted in favour of a proposed seven-year deal that was provisionally agreed to last week.

The Associated Press news agency said the owners’ vote was unanimous with the players and their National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) union expected to agree terms by the end of the week.

The NBA and NBPA locked horns over a new CBA in 2011, with the drawn-out talks ultimately leading to a work stoppage and a 2011-12 season that was reduced to 66 games. The NBA also previously lost games to a CBA-related lockout in 1998-99, but talks have progressed more smoothly this time around.

The current CBA, which outlines the division and allocation of basketball-related revenue, included a date of December 15 for either side to state their intention to opt out of the 10-year pact, which expires in June 2021. If either side took this option, the deal would have ended on June 30, 2017.

Under the new agreement, either side will have the ability to opt out after the 2022-23 season, although the deal will actually extend through the 2023-24 campaign. The new pact will take effect after the current 2016-17 season, with the AP stating that the average player salary is expected to hit $8.5m (€7.9m) next season and rise to $10m by 2020-21 under the fresh terms.

The proposed CBA will also allow for preseason schedules to be capped at six games instead of eight, while regular seasons will start a week earlier than usual to allow for more days off and fewer back-to-back games. Teams will also be allowed to use ‘two-way’ contracts for NBA Development League players for the first time.

Enhanced plans to help retired players with their medical expenses, a priority project for NBPA president Chris Paul and fellow superstars including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, will also be implemented.

“So proud of what those guys stood for and stand for,” Wade told the AP. “The players before us, we're trying to take care of them. The players now, we're trying to take care of them. And the players to come, we're trying to make sure they're good as well.”