NBA PLAYERS have agreed to additional drug testing, adding offseason screening for performance-enhancing drugs only.
Union executive director Billy Hunter sent a memo yesterday, obtained by the Associated Press, to players detailing these and other changes of a new labor deal and recommended they ratify the agreement.
Less clear is a provision for human growth hormone testing. According to the memo, an NBA-NBPA joint committee would study the "possibility of an HGH testing program." NBA spokesman Mike Bass, however, insisted both sides agreed to HGH blood testing, subject to the process being validated by a "neutral committee of experts."
According to the memo, beginning in the 2012-13 season, players can be tested up to two times during the offseason for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs only. They would not be screened for drugs such as marijuana. Previously, the NBA did not test players during its July-September offseason. The memo said a majority of players will be tested no more than four times throughout an entire year, and that no tests could be given at the arena on the night of a game.
Players began voting electronically on the deal last night and could vote through this afternoon, when owners will hold a meeting in New York to vote. If the deal is ratified by a majority on both sides, the NBA fully reopens for business tomorrow with the beginning of training camps and free agency.
Among the items agreed upon, per Hunter's memo:
* A joint NBA-NBPA committee will discuss the age limit, which for now remains 19 years and 1 year out of high school.
* Players with 3 years of service or less may be assigned to the NBA Development League, with no limit on the number of assignments. No player with more than 3 years of service may be assigned to the D-League without his consent.
* Retiring Orlando Magic chairman and CEO Bob Vander Weide says he wasn't intoxicated when he spoke to Orlando's Dwight Howard during a late-night phone call earlier this week and that it hasn't affected their professional relationship in any way. Vander Weide said that his decision to step down had nothing to do with the phone call and that efforts to keep the All-Star center continue.
* Two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, whose career was derailed by a series of injuries, will likely sign a 1-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because signings can't be announced until the new NBA labor agreement is ratified.
* The Associated Press and NBA referee William Spooner have reached a settlement in a lawsuit against the news agency and one of its sports writers, Jon Krawczynski, over a Twitter message suggesting the referee intentionally made a bad call to make up for another one that went against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Spooner agreed to drop the suit, filed last March in Minneapolis, pending removal of the Jan. 24 tweet from Krawczynski's Twitter account and a payment of $20,000 for Spooner's litigation costs.