NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association agreed to a seven-year collective bargaining agreement Thursday, brokering the deal a year before the previous contract was set to expire.
The referees ratified the agreement at a meeting in Chicago. The deal will begin this season, replace the last year of the previous agreement and run through 2022.
"The NBA takes great pride in our world-class referee program and we are pleased to extend the league's partnership with the NBRA for another seven years," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
In striking a deal early, the sides avoided engaging in the kind of public back-and-forth that can often arise in these types of negotiations. It also ensures there will be no need to use replacement referees, a scenario that played out in the NFL to disastrous effect in 2012.
The NFL used replacement referees for much of the first month of that season while the owners locked out their full-time referees. The games were marred by glaring errors, including a touchdown catch by Seattle's Golden Tate that cost the Green Bay Packers a win in Week 3.
The deal also comes at a time when NBA referees are under greater scrutiny than ever before, with the league instituting more and more instant replay in an effort to ensure the calls made during a game are correct.
"Recent efforts including state-of-the-art development and training programs, improved use of instant replay through the NBA Replay Center and unprecedented transparency concerning call accuracy have been instrumental in strengthening the game," Silver said. "We commend our officials for embracing these technological innovations and thank them for the high level of professionalism with which they perform their jobs."