December 22, 2016 / 9:05 PM / 9 months ago

Labor deal 'could be sealed by Christmas'

(Reuters) - National Basketball Association owners have approved the tentative collective bargaining agreement reached with the players’ union last week and await a ratification vote by the players, according to media reports.

Ratification of the seven-year deal by the players, who are voting electronically, could come as early as Friday and seal labor peace by Christmas Day, the reports suggest.

There is breathing room still, as the two sides extended their deadline to Jan. 13.

Negotiations have gone smoothly, in marked contrast to the last round. In 2011, an impasse led to a 161-day lockout with a shortened 66-game season that did not start until Christmas.

With a new nine-year television deal pumping $24 billion into the league, both sides have a lot at stake.

As league revenues climb, the salary cap continues to increase, pushing the maximum wage next season for a player with at least 10 seasons to $36 million.

The new deal is expected to include higher minimum salaries, a more detailed domestic-violence policy, tweaks to the drug-testing procedure, a shortened preseason and a regular season with more days off between games.

The agreement comes with the NBA at an all-time high in popularity.

Earlier this year Forbes said the average NBA team’s value rose to $1.25 billion, a jump of 13 percent from the previous year, driven primarily by media and sponsorship deals being renewed at double or even quadruple the previous amounts.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Neville Dalton

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