The NBA Players’ Association distributed a “lockout handbook” to its members last week, in an effort to provide information on the labor talks and to warn players to be smart with their finances as the strong possibility of a work stoppage looms over the league’s 2011-12 season.
Jared Dudley is the union rep for the Phoenix Suns, so he wasn’t surprised by the handbook’s contents. And he believes that with so much at stake, that the rest of the players should remain educated on the situation, as well.
“That should be the last resort, in the sense of the handbook,” Dudley said after his team practiced on Saturday. “I mean, I’ve known about this handbook, and the only thing that the handbook shows is what (the owners) first offered. And by now you should know. You should know, you should be engaged, especially because it affects everybody. You should know what they’re proposing, why they’re proposing it, and what they’re trying to get. To have the information is needed. (As for) saving — everyone should have been saving.”
One of the things the handbook advised was that the possibility of a lockout was “very likely.” Dudley agreed, but also was careful to point out the fact that just because there’s a lockout, it doesn’t mean that the season will be lost.
“I think it is pretty likely, but the question is missing games,” Dudley said. “It’s kind of like football; they’re locked out, technically. But that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a season.
“I think there will be a lockout; I’m almost 90 percent sure. But that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to prepare for that, but the question is, are you going to miss games? Missing games is missing money and possibly losing fans, and that’s what you’ve got to try to stay away from.”
Dudley didn’t point to one specific thing that is more important than the others from the players’ standpoint when it comes to the negotiations.
“I don’t think players are looking for a better deal,” Dudley said. “I think if you look from the last one to this one, I think the players actually lost a little bit, in terms of guaranteed money, length of contracts, and rookie scale. For the most part, I think guys just want to be fair. I know I don’t want to take advantage, or be taken advantage of. I think (we’re all) grown men, and we can work something out.”
There are important issues on both sides that need to be negotiated, and a lockout may serve as the means to that end. Dudley realizes that, but also knows that neither the players nor the owners can afford for it to last too long and destroy all of the goodwill the league has built with its fan base in recent years.
“No one wants a lockout, I’ll be the first one to tell you,” Dudley said. “At the end of the day hopefully something fair gets done, because no one wants to lose money and everybody wants to keep playing. I think right now the game is at an all time high with the public. But there are probably some teams that are losing money.”