NBA AM: Whats Next For The NBA?
So Now What? The NBA and its Players did not reach a deal yesterday casting the darkest cloud of doubt on the 2011-2012 season so far in this process.
Make no mistake about it, this is a process.
A process by its nature means there will be painful steps and yesterday’s failure to reach an agreement after it seemed a path to a solution was clear is just one more step.
With no deal in place this week, the odds of NBA Training Camps and ultimately pre-season games going off as planned is now highly unlikely. However all is not lost, at least not yet.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said yesterday that he does not plan to ask his owners to vote on cancelling training camp or postponing preseason games, at least not yet.
The Owners are scheduled to hold a Board of Governors meeting on Thursday and while Stern may not ask for a vote, the final power to scrub the pre-season may be granted to the Labor Relations Committee simply by virtue of process.
Stern warned that while yesterday was a “bad day” he hoped that phone conversations could re-start the process which seemed awfully close yesterday.
Sources close to the Players said they expected a favorable deal yesterday and the lack of progress was disappointing, but they too warned that the hardest part of a deal was put on the table – how to split revenue.
Last week the Players opened the door to a much more equitable split of revenues, which was viewed as the key point in the ongoing Lockout. In exchange the Players wanted the bulk of the mechanical parts of the labor system to remain as they were under the now expired Labor deal.
The NBA seemed open to that, or at least that’s what the Players believed when they started the process yesterday.
Because the revenue component was basically agreed to, the remaining battle is how much does the system really need to change?
The Labor Relations Committee for the owners debated this issue for several hours yesterday and arrived at the decision that changing the revenue split alone was not going to be enough, so this is where we find ourselves and the reality of the situation is the full Board of Governors may change their stance on Thursday so all is not lost yet.
There is no doubting that with no meetings scheduled for the foreseeable future that the 2011-2012 season seems to be in real jeopardy. Things still could turn especially if both sides are willing to debate what parts of the old deal stay and what parts go, and in reality that’s easier to achieve than the split of revenue which seemed for the most part resolved.
A full 2011-2012 NBA season is not out of reach yet, however it is now on life-support for sure.
To Decertify Or Not To Decertify: ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Henry Abbott are reporting that NBA agents Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan are pushing hard for the Players’ Association to decertify as a union and pursue legal action in court as a means to force the NBA owners to negotiate on their terms.
The Players’ Association has not ruled out decertification, but as of yesterday they were not headed down that path.
There are a couple of things to know about this news.
First is that most agents are not big fans of current Players’ Association director Billy Hunter.
Hunter has chosen over the years to marginalize the agents’ role in Union business and in many cases some agents feel they have been left out of this process, a process they feel they should have a much larger voice in.
Second, decertification would remove the current Union leadership as the sole voice of the Players. Knowing that the agents are not overly thrilled with Hunter, his decision to not pursue decertification sends a mixed message.
Decertifying opens up legal avenues to the Players, but it also opens up avenues for Hunter to be removed and his strategy replaced.
Decertification would allow for lawsuits, but it also could stop progress on a deal until the legal process plays out. Decertification could open up possibilities for damages to be awarded if the Players were to win lawsuits, but it also could open the door for existing contracts to be voided, something the NBA has said it would pursue as a response to decertification.
There is no questioning the virtues of decertification; it in essence starts a clock on the process, a clock that ticks down to a judge or worse yet a jury making a decision on the NBA’s labor future.
It’s that clock that jump starts the process, because neither side wants the legal system deciding how the next labor deal looks.
The Players’ Association has said it will not pursue decertification yet, however with the NBA’s most powerful and influential agents apparently pushing for it, Billy Hunter and the Players’ executive committee may have to weigh that option more seriously, especially if it looks like games will be missed. Once games are missed not only will players lose their salary checks, but those same agents will lose commission checks on those salaries.