NEW YORK – The NBA Board of Governors has ratified a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement, enabling training camps and the free agency period for the 2011-12 season to begin on Fri., Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. ET. As previously announced, the NBA will begin its 66th season on Christmas Day.

“I am pleased to announce that we have concluded the collective bargaining process and have reached an agreement that addresses many significant issues that were challenges to our league,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “This collective bargaining agreement will help us move toward a better business model, a more competitive league and better alignment between compensation and performance.”

The agreement includes a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, a higher luxury tax with progressive tax rates and the retention of a soft salary cap system. The maximum length of player contracts will be five years (previously six) and maximum annual increases in salaries will be 7.5% for teams re-signing their own players and 4.5% for teams signing other teams’ free agents.

On non-economic issues, the league has bolstered its drug program to include offseason testing, increased penalties for violations involving performance-enhancing drugs, and blood testing for human growth hormone (HGH) once the test is validated by a neutral panel of scientific experts.

Beginning this season, teams can assign veteran players with their consent to the NBA Development League and, effective with the 2012-13 season, there will be no limit on the number of times players with three years or less of experience can be assigned to their team’s NBA D-League affiliate.

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to form a committee to discuss issues related to the NBA Draft and NBA D-League, including Draft eligibility rules, the Draft combine, the number of rounds in the Draft and rules related to the assignment of NBA players to the D-League.

The NBA Board of Governors also voted Thursday to approve a new revenue sharing plan that will quadruple the funds previously shared among NBA teams.

“The Board realized that it was imperative that our revenue sharing program be improved,” Stern said. “We have found a solution that should provide our league with better competitive balance.”

Team training camps and the free agent period will open tomorrow with a Salary Cap of $58.044 million, a tax level of $70.307 million and a minimum team salary of $46.435 million.

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