Some NBA players want to put David Stern’s ultimatum offer to a vote, take it and get back on the court.
Some NBA players want to start the process to decertify the union and fight the owners fire with fire.
It leaves union president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter in a no win situation heading into Tuesday’s union player reps meeting — no matter the move they will make some players unhappy. But the divide among the membership is real, Timberwolves team representative Anthony Tolliver told the Star-Tribune.
“Pretty much everything is split,” he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. “Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it….
“Probably my best bet is to sit down and figure out what’s really important,” he said. “I don’t want to make any outlandish comments about it right now. I want to see what everybody else has to say before I decide what I want to do. At this point, I’m split down the middle like everybody else. I don’t know what I want to do.”
It’s not an easy choice. Stern’s offer is a radical change from the old system and a big loss for the players at the bargaining table. However, decertifying the union would start the clock toward a vote that would certainly end the season. As CBA expert Larry Coon told us, it is likely that the union would make sure the actual vote to decertify the season would come after the owners deadline to cancel the entire season — at that point there is nothing to lose by decertification.
But that decision needs to be made now. And there is a real divide in the union on what steps to take.
As the NFL’s labor situation devolves, the NBA players and owners are sitting back, watching and taking notes.
For example, the NBA’s player union has passed out and gotten players to sign off on potentially decertifying the union. Whether or not they will play that card will depend on how well it goes for the NFL players, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
Tracy McGrady said that the NBA owners also are not totally unified and in an interview with the Detroit News echoes the union line on a key issue — if some teams are profitable and some are not then that is an owner issue about revenue sharing, not a player issue.
“The proposal that (the owners) have out here for us, it’s really bull,” McGrady said. “Some of the owners, (Lakers owner) Jerry Buss, the big-market owners, they don’t want a scale-down….
“They’re (big-market teams) not really losing money. I understand Milwaukee, Minnesota, they’re losing money,” McGrady said. “But that doesn’t have anything to do with us — don’t lowball us.”
McGrady is spot on in one assessment — a lot of what the owners seek in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement is protection from themselves. They want shorter contract lengths and the ability to cheaply buy out the final years of longer deals — which is really only a problem when you hand out bad contracts in the first place. Sure the Knicks would like to have bought out the last couple years of Eddy Curry’s contract, but shouldn’t they pay a penalty for having offered that size contract in the first place? Why should bad management receive a “get out of jail free” card and not have to live up to the contract they offered?
The one thing NBA fans need to realize as they read about the NFL labor issues: The NFL was considered closer to a deal than the NBA. As bad as that situation is, the NBA’s could be much worse.
It sounds ominous, but it’s no more ominous than all the other bad signs out there. This is really more about posturing and having your ducks in a row before heading back to the negotiating table.
Players from at least two NBA teams have unanimously voted to decertify the NBA Players Association, the players union, according to the Dallas Business Journal. They also explain why the players would vote to blow up the body that is negotiating for them.
If the NBPA were to decertify, it would, in effect, operate as a trade organization but cease to be a union. If the league then tried to lock out players, the NBPA could sue the NBA under U.S. antitrust laws and contend that the league was conducting a group boycott, which is illegal. It could not sue the NBA if it remained a union with collective-bargaining authority for its members, under the labor exemption to antitrust laws.
“If the owners are going to lock the players out, the players want to have the option of decertifying the union and asserting their antitrust rights to stop the lockout,” said a source close to the NBPA. “This would keep the game going, not just for the fans but for the players and everyone else.”
Of course it’s not that simple, it’s never that simple. For one, to decertify the union means saying (and proving if challenged) that the union has failed in its duties. Good luck with that. Know that this is a fairly common move in negotiations. But in the public relations game the players could say, “we want to come back to work, it’s those grumpy old owners that won’t let us.” Whether they take that step to decertify the union is another question all together, but it’s out there.
Just to reiterate — a lockout is coming in July. Accept it, become at one with it. The real question is does a deal get worked out before games would start in late October.