David Stern threw out an ultimatium — agree to our deal by Wednesday or come Thursday you get a much worse offer from us. (Stern doesn’t want to call it an ultimatum, but that’s exactly what it is.)
There are three player and union reactions to this, and those reactions are where we stand Monday morning.
First, the union is having meetings with all 30 NBA team player representatives Tuesday to update them on where things stand and to talk strategy, reported first at ESPN. (That follows a Monday conference call.)
The union will not present Stern’s offer to the union for a vote, rather this is a chance to talk strategy and get everyone on the same page. (Stern’s offer calls for a 51-49 percent band on BRI that is worded so that in practice it is really 50/50, plus a mini mid-level exception for tax paying teams, no sign-and-trade for tax payers and a few other system items the players do not consider enough.)
Secondly, the union is hoping to get back to the negotiating table with the owners and negotiate more, ESPN adds.
Sources close to the talks revealed later Sunday that the union is actually holding out hope that the league will call to re-open negotiations before Wednesday, with an eye toward tweaking some of the system issues to lead to a more palatable deal that the NBPA would be comfortable with putting to a vote. The union’s belief, sources say, is that a few changes — none of them monumental — could produce a deal now that the gap on the revenue was closed further in Saturday’s negotiations.
Meanwhile, on a third front, an effort to decertify the union has started to gain momentum. There will be a third call talking decertification with players this week and a drive to get the needed about 130 signatures to force a vote is moving forward. There are questions if they can get that, and even if they get that there are bigger questions if they can get the more the more than 225 votes to actually decertify.
Some — including prominent agents — think the threat of anti-trust lawsuits after decertification could force the owners to give more. They think it’s the players’ best shot at leverage.
Maybe. But don’t bet on it. The NFL players union decertified and the league basically won the one and only legal ruling out of that case, one that was very narrow. The upshot of it is that is that while the union’s case could go forward this is a process that would take several years. Nobody thinks the players can hold out that long. A deal would be struck and the union reconstituted before any real damage came to the owners (if there would be any).
But that’s where we stand. The union will talk strategy, even though right now they don’t have a really good one.