Report: Players Association still considering filing collusion charges against league

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for stern ASW.jpgIn today’s latest sign that a lockout is coming next year and will seriously damage the sport:

The NBA Players Association is still considering filing collusion charges against the owners, according to the Sports Business Journal today. This had been considered before, but it had been quiet, so some thought the issue had been dropped.

Nope.

What has held them back is that proving collusion in a court of law will be very hard to do. The report notes they almost need a “smoking gun.”

Here’s the facts: Last summer the NBA was warning teams that basketball related revenue was falling and that would mean a drop in the salary cap this summer. The league projections said the cap could drop below $51 million, more likely in the $53 million range, from the $57.7 million it was this season.

Then the salary cap numbers were released for next year, and the salary cap is actually going up to $58 million. That means basketball revenue went up last season.

If you are a member of the Oliver Stone Conspiracy of the Month Club, you would say that the NBA released the possibly dramatically lower revenue and cap numbers to artificially lower salaries. Teams cut spending on players based on those lower projections, saving money on what they would have spent if they knew the cap would be flat or up a little.

Of course, the reality is that a year ago the economy was in much worse shape and now, while we can discuss whether there is a double-dip recession on the horizon or not, things are better than they were. Spending was up.

But NBA officials will tell you that revenue was up because of deep discounts in tickets and other inventive steps taken by the teams during the recession.

After a Board of Governor’s meeting — the owners — in Vegas last week, David Stern said they still lost $370 million last year.

Here’s what all this really means for fans: The owners are still very set on changing the economic structure of the game with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. They want shorter contracts, non-guaranteed contracts, they want to bring down the money spent on deals. The players see the revenue numbers go up and think collusion.

We are headed for a lockout people. And nobody seems to think there is a way to stop this train wreck.