Officials open training camp Sunday

NEW YORK -- NBA referees have entered into a five-year collective bargaining agreement with the league, removing the possibility of having replacement officials work the upcoming season. The league's staff of 62 officials will open training camp in New Jersey on Sunday, one week before the start of preseason games.'s Marc Stein reported the agreement on Friday. The NBA's exhibition season starts Oct. 10. The collective bargaining agreement, which runs through the 2008-09 season, was ratified by the league's Board of Governors and by the referees, the NBA announced Tuesday. The CBA vote in Chicago was not unanimous, sources told Stein, but the referees ultimately followed the recommendation of lead negotiator Lamell McMorris to take the offer. Sources said McMorris convinced his union that NBA commissioner David Stern was prepared to lock out the referees for several months if they did not accept the proposal. Among the new contract's clauses is a stipulation that the league office can fine the referees' union $1 million and any individual referee $50,000 for "disruptions during the game." This was the NBA's response to a protest last season when several referees turned their jerseys inside-out and scrawled No. 62 on the backs in support of colleague Michael Henderson, whose error in a Lakers- Nuggets game -- helping Los Angeles to a one-point victory -- was publicly acknowledged by the league. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.