League to announce agreement prior to Game 6
NEW YORK -- NBA owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, averting the possibility of a lockout.
The league called a news conference in San Antonio prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals, with commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter announcing their agreement, ESPN Insider Chad Ford has confirmed.
The deal came on the fourth consecutive day of talks between the sides. The league's old seven-year agreement is due to expire on June 30.
The league and its players' association on Monday night were close to agreeing on a new CBA that would institute a new 19-year-old age minimum, reduce contract lengths and raise the salary cap, according to sources close to both negotiating committee.
Among the main items the players were seeking was a reduction in the so-called escrow tax under which 10 percent of their salaries are withheld if the amount of revenues devoted to players salaries exceeds a specified percentage.
Owners had already offered to raise the salary cap from slightly more than 48 percent of revenues to 51 percent, thereby increasing the amount of money each team can spend on player salaries.
The NBA has a system known as a "soft" salary cap, allowing teams to exceed the cap threshold to retain their own free agents, and to sign free agents under the so-called midlevel exception that was added to the labor agreement in 1999 after the sides went through a 7½-month lockout.
Another lockout could have begun July 1.
The agreement will still need to be ratified by the league's Board of Governors and by the members of the players' union at their annual meeting in Las Vegas next week.
A source close to the NBA negotiating committee and a source close to the union's negotiation committee claim that all of the major issues between the sides had been agreed to in principle as of Monday night.