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Owners pass new labor deal; players vote next

A new labor deal in the NBA is on the verge of being finalized, after owners voted Wednesday to approve a proposed seven-year collective bargaining agreement that was tentatively agreed to last week.

The owners' vote was unanimous and players are expected to finish casting their ballots in the coming days, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the NBA nor the National Basketball Players Association has revealed specifics about the voting process publicly.

Teams met by teleconference on Wednesday to discuss and approve the proposed deal. Players were recently emailed information about the CBA from the union and were intending to have their ratification vote completed electronically by Friday, one of the people involved told AP.

In both cases, the voting processes are no more than formality. When the sides agreed last week, there was no question the required votes to ratify would come from both sides. And if the player vote gets done as planned, the league's showcase day -- Christmas, with five games Sunday -- could be even a bigger celebration than usual.

"This deal was a partnership, for both sides and is about the game overall, what it was, what it is now and its future," Chicago guard Dwyane Wade told AP on Wednesday.

The league and the union spent months working on a new deal, one that ensures labor peace for at least the next six seasons and ends any fear of a work stoppage next summer. Either side will have the ability to opt-out after the 2022-23 season, though the deal will technically extend through 2023-24.

The votes won't actually conclude the work on the new CBA, which takes effect after this season. What the sides agreed to was a term sheet, essentially the framework from which the massive document -- which will likely exceed 400 pages when completed -- will be drawn. Some of the language involved will be existing from the current deal, some of it changed slightly and some of it either very different or new altogether.

Salaries and revenues are expected to continue soaring, thanks in part to a new television deal that is pumping $24 billion into the league's coffers. 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.

Maximum salaries could exceed $40 million per season soon, with Golden State's Stephen Curry -- the NBA's two-time reigning MVP -- potentially in line for an extension this summer that would pay him more than $205 million over the next five seasons if he stays with the Warriors.

Other details of the new proposed CBA include significant increases in values of rookie-scale contracts and minimum salaries. Preseason schedules will be capped at six games instead of eight, regular seasons will start a week earlier than usual to allow for more days off and fewer back-to-backs, and teams will be allowed to use "two-way" contracts for NBA Development League players for the first time.

A program to educate players and their families about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse is also to be part of the new CBA, and vastly improved plans to help retired players with their medical expenses -- a passion project for union president Chris Paul and fellow superstars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Wade, among others -- also will soon take effect.

"So proud of what those guys stood for and stand for," Wade said. "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."

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