HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Forget about Saturday’s scheduled resumption of talks between the warring factions in the NBA labor dispute. There are apparently bigger issues looming right now, particularly for the players and their union.
Both the New York Times and Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday night that a group of 50 players are pushing for the dissolution of the union if things don’t go the way they want this weekend. Whether they are serious about such a drastic move or simply using this as a tactic as a show of power, it presents yet another twist in a tumultuous affair that is clearly grating on all involved.
More from Howard Beck of the New York Times:
A group of 50 N.B.A. players intend to push for the dissolution of their union if a new round of labor negotiations fails this weekend, or if the talks produce an unpalatable deal, according to a person who has spoken to the players.
The movement was said to be entirely player-driven, and borne of a frustration with the pace of talks between the league and union leaders. The players have been locked out since July 1, and a month of games have been canceled.
Two conference calls were held this week between the players and an antitrust lawyer — once on Tuesday and again on Thursday. It is not clear whether union leaders have been directly informed of the effort.
“And the players are seriously considering decertification if a deal is not reached where the players’ proposals are in the final elements of the deal,” said the person connected to the players.
That means the players involved will oppose any deal that includes less than a 52.5 percent share of league revenues for players, or any number of proposed restrictions on free-agent movement. N.B.A. owners are proposing a 50-50 split of revenues and have held firm to that position.
Again, this could all be a negotiating tactic.
But there is no doubt that the rumblings from earlier this week of a possible fracture in the union’s ranks appear to be something a bit more substantial than some of us might have believed.
The players, frustrated with the deal union officials have been negotiating, held a call on Tuesday to discuss the state of labor talks with the NBA, and explored their options on Thursday with the antitrust attorney, sources said.
Said one player on the calls: “If nothing else, this takes us off our heels.”
Several prominent NBA agents were proponents of the calls, sources said.
Unless the Players Association refused to go lower than a 52-48 percent revenue split with the NBA and the remaining system issues went in the union’s favor, sources said there was broad agreement among the players on the call that the next step should be a serious consideration of decertifying the union and filing an antitrust suit in federal court.
There also was discussion about refusing to ratify a deal brought to the players by union executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher, sources said.
“We’re beyond frustrated with the concessions that have already been made,” one source on the calls told Yahoo! Sports. “If the union gives in on the [basketball-related income] split and the open system issues don’t go to the players side, decertification may be the next step.”
Things could get wild this weekend. A move like the one the players are threatening could put the entire 2011-12 season in jeopardy, the doomsday scenario everyone dreads.