WNBA, union extend CBA negotiations to Jan. 15

The WNBA and the players' union said Thursday that they are close to a new collective bargaining agreement but need a little more time for negotiation. They have extended the current agreement by two weeks as they continue discussions.

"We are making substantial progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement which we expect to finalize soon," the WNBA and WNBPA said in a joint statement Thursday. "In the meantime, we have extended the current agreement through January 15, 2020 and expect that free agency contract signings will begin on time on February 1, 2020."

The current CBA was signed in March 2014 and was set to run through the 2021 season. In 2018, the players decided to exercise an opt-out clause to end the agreement after the 2019 season as they felt there were some things -- including travel, benefits and other quality-of-life issues -- that needed attention sooner.

The league must have a new CBA in place before the 2020 season, but both sides have expressed optimism since this past summer that they are largely on the same page. Neither WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert nor union executive director Terri Jackson were in their current roles when the last CBA was negotiated.

The WNBA began in 1997 and currently has 12 teams. Five of them are under the same ownership as NBA teams: the Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Washington Mystics. Those under independent ownership are the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm.

ESPN's Mechelle Voepel contributed to this report.