Players Association Exec Hunter “99 percent sure” there will be lockout

2 Comments

Right now it’s all posturing — more for the general public than each other — but it still sounds ominous.

The latest in the public back-and-forth over a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement is what Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association (the players union) told the Associated Press.

He said he was “99 percent sure” there would be a lockout next season.

“I think it’s highly probable that there will be a lockout and that’s what I’m preparing for because I don’t see anything else right now,” Hunter said…

But Hunter said the owners aren’t budging on their demands for cuts in salaries, contract lengths and guarantees, annual raises, and the rookie salary scale.

“What’s left?” Hunter said in a conference room at the union’s headquarters after helping distribute turkeys to 2,000 families outside….

“I don’t really see that the argument’s all that compelling for the changes that they’re asking for,” Hunter said.

It’s early on, we really will not know how things stand until the All-Star break. The sides are at least talking and meeting, and these are largely the same players at the table from the last CBA negotiations, they know the game.. And you can be sure both sides know that striking in this economic environment would be horrible public relations and would cause economic damage to the league.

But there are some owners pushing hard to reshape the financial structure of the game and some who privately use a higher lockout percentage than Hunter does. The players are not sold in the least that the problems are that serious or that systemic, they are not backing down easily.

Smart money says there will be a lockout July 1. Summer League may be at risk, free agency pushed back. But that’s not the real threat. If this is a two-week lockout in July it’s forgotten when camps open. But if camps don’t open, if exhibition and particularly regular season games are missed, then the damage will be deep. And it will take years to recover.