Players, agents may begin union decertification Friday

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They have the signatures. A band of agents has had the more than 130 signatures needed from players to request the decertification of the union for most of this week, but they sat on it out of respect for the ongoing negotiations.

After watching the outcome of another round of talks, those agents and players are ready to start the process to disband the union and take the entire NBA labor negotiations into the courtroom (by filing anti-trust lawsuits). It was expected, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo tweeted it (and it has been confirmed by others since).

Several agents tell Y! Sports they have 200-plus player signatures for union decertification petition and paperwork could be filed Friday.

This is fine with union director Billy Hunter and the rest of the union leadership.

Even if the group files the petition to decertify the union with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday (essentially trying to displace Hunter), it will take likely at least 45 days (meaning after Christmas) before there is a vote to actually decertify the union. And it could be a few weeks later than that. Which means there is time to negotiate. The union actually had started this process in 1995 but signed a new deal before it ever came to a vote, and that would be the likely scenario again.

The petition would give the union some leverage they could try to bring into the negotiating room — and try to force David Stern and the owners to negotiate more and not just use their “reset” proposal. Although, frankly, the threat is fairly empty. To get a legal ruling that could go against the owners (it’s a crapshoot) would mean the loss of a couple NBA seasons and at least $4 billion in players salaries, not to mention another estimated $100 million or so in attorney’s fees. You really think that is a fight the players want to push to the end?

But the uncertainty it creates is seen as leverage. And right now, as players feel they are getting the losing end of this deal, they will do just about anything for leverage.