Here is the bottom line — the division between the leaders of the NBA players union and agents pushing for decertification of the NBA players union is bad news for players trying to keep as much of the old system as they can in these labor negotiations. Divided they will fall. Hard.
Which is why you see union president Derek Fisher pushing back against five powerful agents who are talking about a coup, forcing decertification of the union. Fisher and union director Billy Hunter are taking a more patient approach, saving decertification and litigation for a last stand.
Fisher expressed frustration with the agents to Howard Beck of the New York Times.
“I find the position of these agents questionable, at best,” Derek Fisher, the union president, said by telephone Wednesday evening. “If they’re so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me at a minimum to share these concerns?”
When the players get together Thursday in Las Vegas to talk, you can bet decertification will come up. You can be just as sure that Fisher and Hunter will argue vociferously against it. But they need to have another plan in place — in a vacuum then decertification becomes the only plan for players to line up behind.
Both sides in the labor talks are waiting for the other side to break. There certainly are divisions among the owners — of the more than five-hour negotiating session on Tuesday, more than three of it was spent with the owners caucusing amongst themselves — right now they remain united behind wanting both a larger share of the “Basketball Related Income” pie and having a hard cap.
The union is not as unified.
NBC’s own Ira Winderman spoke to an agent not part of the breakaway group and wrote about it in his mailbag.
“If you’ve got a bunch of agents telling players not to trust Billy, then you’ve got a break in solidarity,” the agent said….
Yes, decertification might be the path toward a more-favorable agreement for the players in the long run, but such machinations would guarantee this being a long-haul lockout.
For agents, that might not be a bad thing, since their careers can span decades. But for players, whose careers average 4½ seasons, the loss of even months might mean money never recouped.
From a fans perspective, it’s hard to read any of this and see a path to an end to the lockout and the resumption of basketball anytime soon. And that is going to cut into the fan’s money flowing into the league the owners and players are arguing over how to divide up.