PHOENIX (AP) _ The NBA and Continental Basketball Association extended their agreement through the 2000-01 season, which could be final year of their partnership.

The CBA will be paid $2.5 million for training current and future referees as part of Tuesday's deal and for making players available to NBA teams on short notice.

The leagues have had a partnership for referees since 1979 and for players since 1980.

The NBA plans to launch its National Developmental Basketball League next year, while a consortium of former NBA players and coaches have signed a letter of intent to purchase the CBA from Isiah Thomas.

The NBA previously had expressed an interest in merging the CBA with its NBDL, but its interest cooled over the summer while Thomas sought a buyer.

In October, Thomas placed the league, which started in 1946, in a blind trust to avoid a conflict with his new job as coach of the Indiana Pacers.

Ivan Thornton, the New York investment banker in charge of the trust, told the Quad-City Times of Iowa that the consortium had signed a deal to buy the league.

Thornton said Thomas and the buyers hope to announce the sale on Dec. 11, four days before the start of the CBA season.